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The wine world has criticized closing public stores after 6pm in Lombardy

After the letter from the Chianti entrepreneur Piccini to Governor Fontana, UIV, Federvini, Assoenologi, Chianti, Franciacorta express their opinion
ASSOENOLOGI, CHIANTI, COVID-19, FEDERVINI, FRANCIACORTA, Lombardy, MILAN, UNIONE ITALIANA VINI, WINE, News
The wine world has criticized closing public stores after 6pm in Lombardy

The Lombardy Region and the city of Milan are returning to once again being the epicenter of Covid infections in Italy (4.125 new positive cases in one day in the Region, considering in Italy the total was 15.199 new infections, 1.858 in Milan alone, according to data from the Civil Protection). Regional and city administrations are moving forward to the tune of prohibitions and ordinances, in an agenda updated by the hour. The general curfew from 11:00 PM to 5:00 AM to be imposed tomorrow is under discussion. In the meantime, looking at the reality through the magnifying glass of wine, the Lombardy Region ordinance number 620 dated October 16th, 2020 is at the forefront. Attilio Fontana, president of the region, has established, among other things, the "anti-nightlife" rules, indicating “take-away sale of any alcoholic beverage in all types of public establishments is prohibited, including commercial businesses and craft activities, starting from 6:00 pm”.
The wine world expressed its first open criticisms to the Ordinance on October 19th, from Mario Piccini, head of the Piccini Wine Group. He wrote an open letter to Fontana, as WineNews reported yesterday, to which in the last few hours, representatives of the supply chain such as Unione Italiana Vini (UIV) and Assoenologi, and Consortiums of Italian wine such as Chianti, or Lombardy and Franciacorta, have supported the letter, in more or less strong tones.

“We are convinced that choices relating to limitations on consumption of food and wines should be adopted according to the principle of proportions, having the aim of avoiding additional penalties for thousands of wineries in a sector that has been heavily penalized by restrictions in previous months and, in general, by the pandemic that has severely limited consumption”, Unione Italiana Vini wrote in a letter, which together with its associate companies represents 50% of the turnover of Italian wine. “We are firm supporters of a close collaboration between the business world and regional institutions in the current situation”, commented the UIV Secretary General, Paolo Castelletti, yesterday, “but banning the sale of wine products in commercial establishments, besides having no impact on possible gatherings, deprives the sector of an alternative and compensatory source of income to instead one only from consumption in catering, and inflicts a new blow to the heavily challenged sector”.
“There is no doubt that trying to contain the pandemic exposes the administrators in the area to extraordinary pressure, and the necessity to adopt social measures to contain the increase in the contagion index. However, my colleagues, producers of aperitifs, liqueurs and spirits” wrote, instead, Sandro Boscaini president of Federvini, “are very concerned about an ordinance that prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages starting at 6:00 PM. While I suppose that the law was designed to counteract improper forms of gatherings, the ban limits a commercial activity intended for consumption at home, mainly in the family, creating serious damage for producers who see a limited commercial practice that has no impact on containing the pandemic. On the contrary, it is taking the opposite direction of the one the Region is now deciding with the forthcoming adoption of what is journalistically defined as a “curfew”. I therefore ask you, together with all my fellow wine producers, to repeal that part of the ordinance, taking into account the new provisions the Government has adopted in the Prime Minister’s Decree of October 18th, and the regulations limiting nightlife that the presiding Region is preparing to put into effect”.
Riccardo Cotarella, at the helm of Assoenologi, also wrote to Fontana. “I am close to you, personally, and am aware that, never before like now, governing a Region in our extraordinary country has required firmness, courage and strategic vision. The complex and difficult health emergency that the whole world has been experiencing for months is forefront to everyone. And, of course it is the same for Assoenologi, whom I am honored to represent as president. This is the reason, Governor, that I do not understand, nor am I willing to passively accept, the specific ordinance that you have approved, which undermines the productive core of the wine sector. I am referring to the recent ordinance - the so-called anti-movida (nightlife) - that prohibits the sale of wine and spirits after 6:00 pm in all public businesses. It is a regulation that is not only hard to accept, but is also hard to understand within a strategic context aimed at combating the spread of the virus. Behind every ordinance there are suspended lives that deserve thoughtful choices. In this phase, each decision made brings with it the very high risk of not being able to go back”, wrote Cotarella, and among other things, offered his willingness to a dialogue but asking to “revise the position taken on the aforementioned ordinance. The survival of thousands of producers and workers in the Lombard and Italian wine and wine sector is at stake”.
The position the Chianti Consortium, one of the largest and most represented on large-scale distribution in Italy, led by Giovanni Busi, did not mince words, and said, “to ban the sale of wine in supermarkets, wine shops, in all commercial and artisanal businesses starting at 6:00 PM, is madness, it is an attack on common sense, and an incomprehensible measure. You want to attack and criminalize wine, as if it were the cause of inappropriate gatherings. The incredible thing, and we are surprised that no one has caught it”, commented Busi, “is the people who are penalized are especially those who shop after work, and maybe buy a bottle of wine for dinner. Usually, young people, to whom we believe this measure is addressed, have more free time and they can buy wine even before 6:00 PM and then drink it out on the streets. It’s not hard to understand, but what is it that we are talking about? Attacking the large-scale distribution channel sector, the only one that has resisted and guaranteed the survival of many companies during the pandemic, means not understanding the gravity of the crisis that is greatly challenging businesses and workers. The Lombardy Region should rethink their position”. Silvano Bresciani, leader of the Franciacorta Consortium, used not as harsh, but still critical tones, as we read in the Italian newspaper “Il Giorno” in Brescia, “banning the purchase of wine starting at 6:00 PM penalizes us, there is no doubt about it. We are living in a challenging situation, but I believe prohibiting consumption, according to a timetable does not solve the problem. We need equilibrium and maximum attention. More and stronger restrictions could lead to catastrophic damage, not only to my sector, but to the entire galaxy of food and wine which, in our country covers a significant slice of the domestic product”. This is one of the many issues that narrate the challenges we are all facing in these times. The protection of public health, which is obviously the absolute priority, needs to coincide with calibrated measures capable of protecting, where possible, the economy and making everyday life as normal as possible.

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