Covid-19 and the State’s Booze Biz

To the Editor:

I have been deeply concerned about many N.H. policies and actions regarding our response to Covid-19, but the State Liquor Store policy is one of the most dangerous, unjustifiable, and fraught with moral, legal and ethical problems. Some thoughts to consider:

1. What is the State policy if a worker refuses to work under the conditions that the State admits that a worker, “may bear a heightened risk of exposure to and community transmission of Covid-19 to a degree not inherent to the performance of other state services?” Are they fired, placed on leave without pay, asked to take vacation/sick leave, etc? Taking such personal risks was not a condition of employment when the individual was hired.

2. Are workers at high risk of Covid-19 complications due to their age or underlying health conditions given special considerations and protections?

3. What is the liability to the State, the Liquor Commission and the Governor, if, as a result of this policy a worker contracts Covid-19 as a result of their employment and suffer serious illness and, or death?

4. What is the liability if a worker contracts Covid-19 at work, and subsequently infects others in their home or community, and, who then develop serious disease or worse?

5. Is the State knowingly and willingly allowing unnecessary community transmission of Covid-19?

6. Is a 10 percent raise going to protect these workers?

7. How can the State consider open retail store liquor sales an “essential business,” when such a business is not life sustaining? Retail grocery store workers are getting infected with Covid-19, however, at least supplying food is a life sustaining “essential” business, and these stores are not operated by the state.

8. Why has the State, knowing and admitting to the associated increased risks associated with keeping State Liquor Stores open, continued this practice when there is an alternative way to supply liquor to customers in a manner that protects the workers and the public? Other businesses have successfully transitioned to curb-side pick up service. Liquor can be ordered on line or by phone, paid for with a credit card, and when arriving at the store call in and have the liquor brought to their car for ID check and delivery. Obviously, this is not as easy as the normal retail process, but this situation requires unusual and creative ways of doing business to protect the employees and the public.

The State has a legal and moral obligation to protect its workers and the public, as well as the taxpayers who will ultimately pay for any legal and financial liabilities the State incurs as a result of this unjustified policy. I implore the state to do what is morally and legally right.

Hon. Rich DiPentima, BA, BSN, MPH

Portsmouth, N.H.


Hard for the State to get righteous all of a sudden when it’s been peddling booze by the side of the road to to Mass…residents for decades.

The Editor

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