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Takeaway back on menu for cellar doors, breweries after virus law backdown

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Emergency laws banning food and wine sales at SA wineries, cellar doors and breweries are being wound back, with takeaway orders now being given the green light.

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Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said today that a direction made several weeks ago to limit the spread of coronavirus under the Emergency Management Act had been revoked and takeaway trade was allowed as of 11am Wednesday.

That original direction ordered cellar door and wineries to immediately stop offering food and drink takeaway orders, even though hotel bottle shops, cafes and restaurants were permitted to continue offering takeaway service.

The order forced many cellar doors – which had pivoted their businesses to servicing online orders in order to keep operating – to immediately shut kitchens down and lay off staff.

Some breweries continued to offer takeway services, but on Thursday evening before the Easter long weekend, police ordered two Adelaide Hills breweries, including the Prancing Pony at Mt Barker, to stop trading.

Lawyers for the brewery then threatened legal action, claiming police had over-reached.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens today said the new order aligned wineries, cellar doors, breweries and distilleries with restrictions currently in place for hotels, restaurants and similar businesses.

Wineries, cellar doors, breweries and distilleries can now sell alcohol, food or other products on a takeaway basis from the premises, but tastings of any kind are not permitted and consumption of any produce, alcohol or food is not permitted on site.

Stevens denied that legal threats had influenced the new direction, which he said was made “after extensive consultation with the Chief Public Health Officer”.

“I’m confident that the directive issued to the two breweries last Thursday were lawful and appropriate in the circumstances,” he said.

Stevens said the original order to shut down winery and cellar door trading had been made because COVID-19-infected tourists visiting wineries had led to a cluster of cases in the Barossa Valley.

“This required swift action, and swift action was taken to restrict the potential for people to contract the virus by being exposed to those locations where those tourists had visited,” he said.

“What we were seeking to achieve was to limit all non-essential travel and as a part of that we instituted directions which removed the incentive for people to do so.”

Stevens said SA’s slowing infection rate and general adherence to Easter stay-at-home messages had prompted those restrictions to be eased.

He said that while the two breweries ordered to shut down last week had contacted police, there had been no contacts from the many other wineries and cellar doors also forced to cease trading.

“It’s not just breweries – over a thousand wineries had no notice whatsoever that they were required to cease trading from their premises, and they did so with an understanding of the intent and what we were seeking to achieve,” he said.

Prancing Pony co-owner Corinna Steeb said she was feeling “infinitely better” after the Assistant Police Commissioner called today to tell her the ban had been lifted.

“We’re back to trading – we’re open again and that’s what we wanted all along,” she said.

“It’s a great win, not just for us but for everybody else that had restricted trading.

“I think we’ve argued that point very strongly publicly – we thought that the directive had been applied wrongly.

“Don’t get us wrong: we all want this virus under control, but businesses, when they’re compliant with social distancing, they should be able to trade… simply to maintain a level of normality and maintain employment – and that’s all we asked for.”

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