Why are liquor stores considered an essential business?

Posted at 11:56 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 23:56:08-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Liquor stores are considered essential businesses, and allowed to stay open in New York State, but not everyone agrees that should be the case.

R. Lorraine Collins is the Associate Dean for Reasearch at the University at Buffalo's School of Public Health and Health Professions. A main focus of her studies is alcohol use. She said she was surprised to learn liquor stores are considered essential business.

"When we're asking people not to go out and then say, 'oh by the way go out to the liquor store,' that doesn't really make any sense," she said.

We asked the Governor Andrew Cuomo's office why liquor stores are essential. They said food and beverage stores are essential businesses, and liquor stores fall into that category.

Some health experts cite alcohol withdrawal concerns, but not all agree on the impact this could have on an already-strained hospital system.

"What percentage of the community do have problems with alcohol vs. the broader community, it's still a minority of people that have problems with alcohol to the extent that they would go through withdrawal," she said.

Additionally, with everyone staying home, Collins said alcohol could make domestic violence situations worse.

She does see some benefits, however. For example, it prevents people from traveling to other states to buy alcohol. Several states allow liquor sales including neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut. Collins said Americans also drink to relieve stress.

"Many of us use alcohol as a coping strategy and right now we have a lot to cope with," she said.

If you or someone you know needs help, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has a list of therapists and doctors on their website. There are video chat options.