Friday 20 August 2021 

Sip and savour and ‘go no, low or slow’ in lockdown, says the NZ Alcohol Beverages Council (NZABC).

“It’s always okay to choose no alcohol, choose a drink that is lowalcohol, or simply sip and savour your drink slowly,” says Bridget MacDonald, NZABC’s Executive Director.

“Despite the pressures of COVID-19, Government research shows over lockdown last year the majority of Kiwis drank moderately and responsibly, with 34% choosing to drink less and 36% not drinking at all. We are living in a situation of uncertainty and stress, so we need to continue to make responsible drinking decisions to keep ourselves safe and social,” says Bridget MacDonald, NZABC’s Executive Director.[1]

“Alcohol can be enjoyed as part of a balanced lifestyle, but in these challenging times, it is important to take time to think about ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ we are drinking, consider no and lowalcohol options, and check out tools such as and for information and tips that can help us make better drinking decisions,” says Bridget.

“New Zealanders are making better decisions around alcohol based on their personal circumstances and lifestyle.  As a result, our consumption is decreasing and below the OECD average, hazardous drinking is declining, and fewer younger people are drinking,” Bridget says. [2, 3]

“In tough times like these, we all have a part to play to conquer COVID-19 – that includes making sensible drinking decisions for ourselves when we’re at home and supporting others to do the same. ‘Go no, low or slow’ is an easy rule of thumb to follow – it’s always okay to choose no alcohol, choose a drink that is low-alcohol, or simply sip and savour your drink slowly,” says Bridget.


Need more information? Here are some handy tips for better drinking decisions

  • Check out and for more information on what a standard drink is and how to make better drinking decisions.
  •  A good rule of thumb is ‘Go no, low or slow’. It’s okay to choose no- or low-alcohol drinks. If you choose to drink, pace yourself and enjoy your drink slowly.
  •  Drink plenty of water, especially in between drinks stay hydrated, and eat if you are drinking.
  •  Support others to stay safe and social. Check in with family and friends to help them stay connected.
  • Ministry of Health/HPA Guidelines: Low-risk alcohol drinking advice to reduce your long-term health risks by drinking no more than:

         – Two standard drinks a day for women and no more than 10 standard drinks a week,

         – Three standard drinks a day for men and no more than 15 standard drinks a week,

AND have at least two alcohol-free days every week. 

Need help? 

Call the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, free txt 8681, or visit



Health Promotion Agency, Post-lockdown survey – the impact on health risk behaviours, 28 July 2020

Research by the Health Promotion Agency over lockdown showed 36% of New Zealanders didn’t drink at all, one-third (34%) chose to drink less, and nearly half (47%) consumed about the same. Post-lockdown saw drinking habits return to pre-lockdown levels for most New Zealanders, with two-thirds (64%) drinking at their usual (pre-lockdown) levels, and 22% reported drinking less than usual.

[2]  No- and low-alcohol consumption: NZ Alcohol Beverages Council, New Zealander’s attitudes to alcohol research, December 2020, poll of 1000 New Zealanders: 40% of respondents say they drink low-alcohol beverages.

[3] New Zealand Health Survey 2019/20, November 2020, Four in five adults (81.5%) drank alcohol in the past year and are moderate drinkers. One in five drank (20.9%) in a hazardous way.!/explore-indicators (Note: the results of the survey does not include information about people’s health during the lockdown in New Zealand)

Decreasing alcohol consumption: StatsNZ Infoshare, Alcohol available for consumption to December 2020 (published 25 February 2021),

Alcohol available for consumption has been trending downward for a number of years. Data shows alcohol available for consumption was 8.719 litres per head of population (15 years and older) in December 2020 and a 22.7% decrease since 1986 when the data was first collected where there was 11.282 litres per head of population in December 2020.

NZ consumption below OECD average: OECD Alcohol Consumption, Alcohol consumption is defined as annual sales of pure alcohol in litres per person aged 15 years and older. The OECD average consumption is 8.9 litres/capita (aged 15 and over). New Zealand is at 8.8 litres/capita.