Major Russian alcohol importers have warned their customers about possible shortages in the supply of foreign-sourced alcohol, business newspaper Kommersant has reported, citing a source from a major Moscow-area restaurant chain.
According to the newspaper, COVID-19-related border closures may result in changes in customs operations, with restaurants advised to plan ahead accordingly and top up ahead of time.
In addition, some suppliers are also said to have switched to a prepaid delivery system, with some businesses in the catering industry having no opportunity to pay ahead, forcing them to revise the assortment of liquors they have on hand.
Russia’s Federal Service for Alcohol Market Regulation and the Ministry of Finance has also reportedly taken an interest in the situation, asking distributors to provide data on any imports where there are risks of a disruption in supply.
Like hospitality industry businesses across much of the world, restaurants and cafes in Russia have suffered a major decline in business thanks to the coronavirus epidemic, with fewer customers choosing to frequent their establishments. Russian authorities have yet to implement any widespread forced lockdowns, as some European countries have done, but service sector businesses have expressed concerns that further restrictions may be incoming.
Russia has reported 147 confirmed cases of COVID-19. The government implemented a series of measures, including quarantine for infected individuals, travel restrictions and fiscal measures to minimize the virus’s impact on the economy. On Wednesday, the Health Ministry reported that Russian scientists had sequenced the whole genome of the new coronavirus, with the completed work expected to help with the development of vaccines and antiviral drugs.
In recent years, Russia has taken a series of measures to improve controls over the production, distribution and retail sale of alcohol, banning alcohol at select locations and limiting time of sale, banning advertising in most locations and increasing excise taxes substantially. These and other measures have helped to reduce Russia’s alcohol consumption from 15.8 liters per capita in 2010 to 11.7 liters per capita in 2016. However, these figures are still far higher than the global average of 6.4 liters per person, and excessive alcohol consumption continues to have a major negative impact on the economy and public health, particularly in remote regions.