Consumer group CAMRA NI (Campaign for Real Ale) has welcomed called on ministers to allow local brewing and cider-making businesses to sell their products online, after they decided off-licences are allowed to remain open.

The Campaign argues that not only is this the right thing to do to avoid social contact, it would also allow communities to support their local businesses by having high-quality, locally produced drinks delivered to them during the Covid-19 shutdowns.

Current licensing laws mean local businesses can’t sell beer and cider online for delivery, but people can order from Great Britain, the Republic or anywhere else in the world and have drinks delivered to them.

Responding to the decision by the Executive to allow off-licences to stay open CAMRA NI chair Ruth Sloan said: “Whilst the new guidance will be welcome news for local drinks producers who sell through some off-licences, we still believe that the most sensible thing for the Executive to do is to allow small independent brewers and cider-producers to sell directly to the public online, just as similar businesses in other parts of these islands do.

“This would be an effective, safe and sensible way of keeping these businesses alive during the Covid-19 closures whilst allowing people to support local producers without having to leave the house.

“Producing beer and cider can still be done safely – businesses just need a sensible way of selling it. NI’s brewers and cider-makers are well positioned to survive the current challenges, provided they get the support they need from the Executive.

“If the law can’t be changed quickly, then ministers should consider issuing guidance that brewers won’t be prosecuted for selling their products online during the coronavirus crisis.”

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