Nowadays, when dealing with COVID-19 pandemic, the matter of “selling via the Internet” is urgent. The negative effects of coronavirus turned out to be particularly severe for the alcoholic beverages market in Poland.
The statutory closure of restaurants and bars completely cut off producers and distributors of alcoholic beverages from possible sales channels. Thousands of entrepreneurs involved in both the retail and wholesale distribution of all alcoholic beverages are facing imminent bankruptcy. Along with the collapse of intermediaries, purchases from producers have been completely stopped. Several thousand entities in this field of production are threatened with insolvency.
All organizations of wine, cider, and craft beers makers prepared proposals for the government to solve this extremely important problem. The solution and changes in the law are absolutely crucial today when the epidemic cut producers off from earning.
What’s the problem?
The core of the problem is associated with “selling alcohol via the Internet”. Delivery to the customer means in the light of applicable law – sale outside the point of sale specified in the permit – and therefore contrary to the conditions specified in the Act.
Retail sale of alcoholic beverages intended for consumption at or outside the place of sale may be conducted only on the basis of an issued permit. In Poland, everyone who wants to sell alcohol has to apply for the premises licence (we don’t have personal licences as in the UK). So if you sell alcohol, you are only allowed to do it at a point of sale that meets the requirements set by the municipal council. Therefore, the point of sale specified in the permit must be a physical place that meets the requirements specified in the regulations and it is unacceptable to obtain the permit only for the online store (you can find some online shops selling alcohol but they risk losing the licence).
The main problem now is the inability to run business in accordance with the above conditions – the sale of alcoholic beverages by an entrepreneur with a valid permit issued for a specific point of sale. Delivery to the customer is not included in the premises licence.
The consequences of such sales (outside the store) is a penalty imposed on the seller and he also loses his licence to sell alcoholic beverages for three years. So it means closing the business.
The only solution for the industry is the government’s immediate permission to deliver alcoholic beverages to isolated consumers at home, by mail order. What is particularly important and ridiculous, the binding provisions were introduced nearly 40 years ago (sic!), in a completely different socioeconomic situation.