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Reducing liquor store hours could undermine containment efforts: epidemiologist

Last Updated Mar 19, 2020 at 12:09 pm CDT

Bottles of British Columbia wine on display at a liquor store in Cremona, Alta., on February 7, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

TORONTO – An epidemiologist says cutting liquor store hours amounts to a half-measure that could undermine efforts to contain COVID-19.

Donald Milton, who studies the spread of virus particles at the University of Maryland, says that reducing hours could crowd more customers into liquor stores and create needless lineups.

Government-run liquor stores in provinces including Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia are scaling back operating times, opening their doors for between seven and nine hours on most days.

Some provinces are managing traffic flow to avoid crowding or establishing a designated shopping time for seniors and consumers at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

WATCH: Liquor store sales spike during amid COVID-19 outbreak

On Wednesday, Prince Edward Island announced that the province will shut down all non-essential services — including liquor stores — by this afternoon, leaving residents with less than 24 hours to stock up on booze and cannabis as they queued up in close quarters at outlets in Charlottetown.

Milton recommends either closing stores entirely or maintaining regular or extended hours.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 19, 2020.

The Canadian Press