And police are pushing to go still further: Police Commissioner Maara Tetava, in charge of liquor licensing, would like to withdraw licences from convenience stores so that alcohol can only be purchased from the big stores like CITC Liquor and The Bond.
Merrymakers would also be prevented from stocking up: police would like to see volume limits similar to those for duty-free of 2 litres of wine or spirits, or at most a dozen beers.
For now, though, the Office of the Prime Minister has just ordered the restrictions on sales hours. And the renewal of liquor licenses are on hold until further notice.
Social gatherings are restricted to a maximum of 10 people, for two months from tomorrow.
Police spokesperson Trevor Pitt said in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, Police and the health system didn’t have the capacity to also be dealing with drunken violence, drink-drive smashes and head trauma.
Alcohol and food retailers are now exploring new solutions, including home deliveries. Rarotonga Breweries now offers free home deliveries to avoid human contact, and other hope to do the same.
Breweries manager Jason Napa said they were trying to make things easier for people. Orders must be prepaid by bank transfer, with proof of payment before delivery.
Prime Foods reduced its hours this week, but now allows customers to email or phone in their order – then just turn up to pay and pick up.
Sales manager Shane Andrews said they decided to lessen the “strain and pressure” on their customers. “We want to relieve the congestion of our new shopping procedures and help everyone to prepare calmly.
Customers had been calm and patient with the new social distancing procedures in place, he said. “We are trying our best to accommodate our shoppers, and their needs with all that's happening right now.”
The new store hours are: Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5pm, and Saturday 8am to 2pm.
Andrews said: “We are all in it together to protect our country.”