Healthy Families Hutt Valley has a focus on reducing the harm caused by alcohol, where people have safer patterns of drinking behaviour, environments support low-risk drinking, harmful drinking is not visible to our children and young people and community wellbeing and safety is enhanced.

Overall New Zealanders drink too much, and more alcohol leads to more harm. For many of our communities the amount of alcohol, and pattern of drinking, causes harm to themselves and others, and it is this significant health harm which has a particular impact on our tamariki.

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity for alcohol to be more accessible and readily available as businesses moved online to sell and deliver alcohol directly to people’s homes.

During lockdown we set out to explore the question ‘Should alcohol deliveries be ‘essential’ during lockdown?’ By posting this question to our Facebook page and seeking ‘reactions’ and comments we wanted to see what the community thought about alcohol deliveries during lockdown.

What we learnt by posting this question, was that people’s views varied greatly. The commentary highlighted that this was more complex than we initially thought and was not a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

Some people viewed it as necessary, and commented that forcing people in to alcohol withdrawal had seemingly greater consequences, than alcohol being readily available and accessible to people’s homes.

“People with addictions if they go into sudden withdrawal they can end up having violent reactions and putting people in danger. Just because it might not be essential to you doesn’t mean it isn’t to others.”

Other views suggested that it was okay for alcohol to continue to be available in the supermarket however, it should not be delivered to people’s homes.  Others raised the issue of alcohol being left unsecured at their property when they had placed an order for home delivery.

“You can still buy from supermarkets. So people can still acquire alcohol if they wanted to. So there’s absolutely no need for it to be delivered.”

We want to continue this conversation and change the way we talk about this complex issue, beyond whether there should or should not be alcohol deliveries during COVID-19 lockdowns.

We plan to bring system partners and stakeholders together for an initial workshop in October with the aim to engage people in a powerful shared goal and create momentum for collective action.