Update – Countries that have banned alcohol sales due to Covid-19

In North America and much of Europe, liquor stores remain open with limited hours. Often busy and protected under the same regulations that allow businesses such as supermarkets or pharmacies to operate.

Some countries, on the other hand, have banned alcohol, others say liquor shops are essential services, and one top official even suggested a tipple after a long day trapped at home can be a necessary restorative.

The debate around alcohol and the coronavirus pandemic touches on issues of health, the economy, worker safety — and whether for some a glass of wine may indeed help cope with the stress of seeing their lives upended in the space of weeks.

While restrictions have been placed on alcohol sales in many countries due to the closure of pubs, restaurants, bars and stores, here is an update on the countries and regions that have gone one step further that have banned both on- and off-trade sales during the coronavirus outbreak.

 South Africa

South Africa, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak in Africa, has enforced strict lockdown measures. The country has banned the sale and export of alcohol until 16 April.

However, the country’s wine industry received a welcome boost last week when viticultural and winemaking work was deemed “essential”. This means that wineries will be allowed to finish their 2020 harvest and work on the wine in their cellars.

Citing reasons for the alcohol ban, the government said that booze reduces a person’s ability to practice social distancing and practice good personal hygiene. It also stated that alcohol can affect the immune system, meaning that those with already weak immune systems will make themselves more susceptible to disease.

It also said that an alcohol prohibition would “limit the possibility of an increase in incidents of domestic violence” and also reduce stress on the emergency services.

Greenland

The sale of alcohol was banned in the capital of Greenland, Nuuk, and the surrounding area (Kapisillit and Qeqertarsuatsiaat) as of March 28, and is expected to last until April 15.

The country’s prime minister, Kim Kielsen, said that the consumption of alcohol makes people “less aware of the danger of contamination”.

He also said that he has taken the decision to ban alcohol in order to protect children and make sure they have “a safe home”.

Aisne, France

Aisne, a département in northern France, announced March 24 that the sale of alcohol from stores was banned during the coronavirus lockdown.

Like the reasons given in South Africa and Greenland, Ziad Khoury, Préfet of the region, cited concerns over violence, particularly in the home, as being a contributing factor to the alcohol ban.

However, after a backlash, this decision was allegedly reversed and the ban was lifted.

 Provinces of Thailand 

Sakon Nakhon banned the sale of alcohol starting Tuesday at least until April 16. The move is designed to curb group drinking at home, a popular tradition among rural Thais. Thailand has the highest per-capita alcohol consumption in Southeast Asia, according to a World Health Organization report.

Majority-Buddhist Thailand already has relatively strict rules that block sales of beer, wine and spirits during specific hours, and others among its 77 provinces could follow Sakon Nakhon’s lead if infections keep surging, according to health officials. The country has more than 1,600 confirmed cases and 10 fatalities.

Banning alcohol would add a tier to state-of-emergency rules imposed by the government last week, under which non-essential businesses are shut and inter-provincial travel is discouraged.

Violation of the rule in Sakon Nakhon is punishable by one year in prison or a fine of 100,000 baht ($3,066).

 

Sources: Drinks Business and Bloomberg

 

 

 

The Bourgogne Wine Sector Stands Ready — New Working Practices on Estates to Face the Health Crisis

Since France has ground to a near-halt under Covid-19 confinement measures, growers and négociants in Bourgogne have continued to work, introducing some ingenuity. This is essential because the vines continue to grow; there is work to be done in the cellar, and because one also has to think about when normal business resumes. In Bourgogne, growers and négociants are adhering to strict safe distancing measures both in the vines and the winery.

Activity accelerating in the vines

The hashtag #LaVigneContinue exists for a good reason: Nature cannot be confined! Especially in the springtime, when the sap rises, and the buds emerge from their downy cocoons. In each plot, there is work to be done. The cuttings must be cleared after pruning, trellising must be repaired, the canes need tying up, the ground needs plowing. After budburst, the excess buds and suckers will need to be removed.

Growers and négociants in Bourgogne are continuing to work as far as possible and adapting to the situation. Nicolas Rossignol, in Gevrey-Chambertin, has reorganized his team: “I have asked everyone to use their personal vehicle to get around. In the vines, it is one to a plot, or else we leave two or three rows between us (2 to 3m) if we have to work in the same place. In addition to tying up and fixing trellising, we are also starting to plow. I have two tractors, so each driver has their own.”

And for a touch of local ingenuity, he reveals that instead of using commercial hand-sanitizer, he dug out some of the “head” distillation liquid from a batch of marc de Bourgogne. “It’s around 80% alcohol, so it’s ideal for disinfecting hands and equipment. In the same vein, we no longer eat together. Since we’ve had fine weather, everyone has lunch outside. You just have to go one at a time into the kitchen to reheat your dish.”

There are some unexpected obstacles to manage, such as hiring a seasonal worker to make up for the absence of an employee who has to stay at home to look after children while the schools are closed.

In wineries that have larger teams of staff, managers have also had to adapt. With 10 or more employees, flexibility is the order of the day. Working times are staggered to avoid encountering coworkers, and those who are partially occupied looking after children come into work when they can, including on weekends. Nicolas Rossignol concludes: “The growth cycle has begun, although the cold which came at the start of last week slowed it a little. But overall, we are working at the same pace as usual.”

Complex adaptation for shipments

During this season, activity in the cellar is calmer. The wines are in the middle of aging, and the main task is topping up barrels. This only usually requires one person. Other lower-priority tasks can wait.

The area of bottling, labeling, and shipping poses another set of challenges. Some companies are carrying on, anticipating that others will resume activity a fortnight from now. But whatever the task, managers are attentive to maintaining safe distances between employees, and respecting all the recommendations from the Ministry of Health. The essential thing is looking after the health of staff.

On the commercial front, there are fewer orders than usual. Some transporters continue to make deliveries, while certain international orders have been put on one side, ready to go as soon as international transport resumes.

“We know the current situation is only temporary, and we are ready to respond to increased demand as soon as it comes,” said Louis-Fabrice Latour, President of the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB) and CEO of the Louis Latour wine house. “Managers of wineries and estates are keeping a close eye on when normal production activity can resume, whilst ensuring the health and safety of all concerned.”

On behalf of the whole wine sector, he added: “We are aware of all the efforts being made, on all levels, for France to emerge from this health crisis as quickly and in the best shape possible. We will contribute to this return to normal. We are also greatly appreciative of all of those who are taking care of us and our families.”

The Hand-Sanitizer Manufacturing Exchange Is Launched in Canada

Cosmetics Alliance Canada, the Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association and Spirits Canada today launched the Hand-Sanitizer Manufacturing Exchange as part of their efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Hand-sanitizers have been recognized as one of the effective tools in combatting the transfer of the COVID-19 virus and a measure that can be easily and safely utilized by everyone in stopping the spread of this disease.

“Our three organizations have come together to aid in faster, safer and effective scale-up of hand-sanitizer production across Canada”, said Cosmetics Alliance Canada CEO, Darren Praznik.

“People are coming together to do what they can in this crisis but Canadians need access to safe products. DIY hand-sanitizers, the latest trend on social media is at best ineffective against COVID-19 and at worst potentially dangerous. We pledge to do our best to ensure that Canadians have an adequate supply of safe and effective hand-sanitizer for you and your family,” says Shannon Coombs, President of CCSPA.

Developed in collaboration with Health Canada, the Exchange provides a single platform where firms interested in making hand-sanitizer or contributing to its manufacture will be able to exchange information to locate available materials, services or manufacturing capacity needed for production.

The initiative parallels Health Canada action expediting approvals of companies interested in making hand-sanitizer, a product regulated under Health Canada’s Natural Health Product Regulations, part of Canada’s Food and Drugs Act.

The Exchange reminds all interested parties that they should consult Health Canada’s March 242020 bulletin outlining how hand-sanitizer products and the companies making them may seek expedited approvals.

Jan Westcott, CEO of Spirits Canada noted that “As governments all across Canada are mobilizing to ensure the supply of critical medical equipment and health products, we and our Cosmetics and Consumer Specialty Products partners are pleased to be able to do our part in helping with the disinfectant component of the fight.”

Joining the three Exchange developers are the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) who will host the Exchange on their website.

Websites:

Cosmetics Alliance Canada – https://www.cosmeticsalliance.ca/

Canadian Consumer Specialty Products Association- http://www.ccspa.org/

Spirits Canada – https://www.spiritscanada.ca/

Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters – https://cme-mec.ca/

 

Labatt Breweries of Canada Shift Production to Hand Sanitizer to Fight Spread of COVID-19

Labatt Breweries of Canada is once again mobilizing its Canadian Disaster Relief Program and for the first time, is in the process of shifting production from beer to hand sanitizer across the country in support of the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. Initial production will result in 50,000 bottles of hand sanitizer that will be donated to support Food Banks Canada, front line workers and partners in the restaurant and bar industry who are playing a critical role in serving take-out meals in a time of need.

Following the guidelines established by the World Health Organization (WHO), select Canadian facilities will commence the production of hand sanitizer effective immediately. This includes Labatt Breweries facilities in London, Ont., Edmonton, Alta., and Montreal, Que., Goodridge & Williams in Vancouver, B.C. and Mill Street Beer Hall in Toronto, Ont.

“This is a national crisis like we haven’t seen in our lifetimes and we feel an obligation to do everything we can to help through our Disaster Relief Program,” said Charlie Angelakos, Vice President, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Labatt Breweries of Canada. “Our goal is to get this much-needed sanitizer into the hands of those who need it most, especially individuals on the front lines serving their communities as we all pull together.”

Donations of the hand sanitizer will be determined on a local basis where Labatt Breweries of Canada facilities are located from coast-to-coast and arrangements for safe delivery will be made.

“It’s times like these when organizations like ours need more support than ever – to assist the devoted food bankers on the ground helping those vulnerable people in our communities.  We’re so grateful that Labatt is providing us with much-needed hand sanitizer,” says Chris Hatch, CEO, Food Banks Canada. “It’s great to see a Canadian company step up and do their part in helping the community and I’m sure Labatt’s efforts will have a major impact during this difficult time.”

http://www.labatt.com

 

10 DISTILLERIES AND BREWERIES MAKING HAND SANITIZER

With coronavirus infecting over 100,000 people worldwide to date, health authorities have suggested using hand sanitizer as one of the easiest ways to prevent this disease from spreading.

This has led to panic buying the anti-bacterial gel and, now, supermarkets and chemists are starting to run low on hand sanitizer.

The World Health Organization (WHO) provides a recipe for making hand sanitizer at home, but its guidelines recommend using a white spirit that contains a minimum of 60% ABV for it to be effective. Given that most spirits in the UK and Europe are sold at around 40% ABV, this kind of potency is hard to find for everyday shoppers.

As a result, dozens of spirits manufacturers have answered the call and started to make hand sanitizers or high-strength spirits of their own. Some are selling these to local supermarkets, some are asking for donations from their local communities to support charitable initiatives, and some are giving them away to those most in need.

Brewdog, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Brewdog is one of the latest drinks groups to pivot to personal hygiene. The brewer’s spirits arm, Brewdog Distilling Co., is now making hand sanitizer at its distillery in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Mock-ups of the gel bottles were posted on Twitter March 17 and resemblance the company’s new branding, which was unveiled last month.

Brewdog co-founder James Watt said the company is not selling it for profit but is instead “giving it away to those who need it.

Pernod Ricard, France

In France, spirits giant Pernod Ricard said it would donate 70,000 litres of pure alcohol to produce hand sanitizer. The company is working with Laboratoire Cooper, which supplies hand sanitizer to French pharmacies, according to an announcement from the group on Wednesday.

Pernod Ricard’s announcement came as French health officials warned the country could face a shortage of basic resources as it goes into lockdown, including hand sanitizer.

The decision could help pharmacies across the country produce the equivalent of 1.8 million individual 50ml vials of hydroalcoholic gel.

Sébastien Lucot, Managing Director of Laboratoire Cooper, added: “We are very pleased with this partnership with Ricard SAS. Since January we have been steadily increasing our production capacity. It has already increased five-fold in one month, with the demand of pharmacists and consumers being a top priority for us.”

Elsewhere, in Spain and Ireland, Pernod Ricard Spain and Irish Distillers will also put their technical, human and production facilities at the service of the authorities to produce hand sanitizer.

Absolut Vodka, Sweden

Meanwhile, Pernod Ricards subsidiaries have also turned their production to hand sanitizer.
Absolut Vodka has said it will distribute high alcohol neutral spirit in Sweden for use in hand sanitizers.

Paula Eriksson, communications manager for The Absolut Company, has said the vodka producer is “happy to help”.

“We can deliver the neutral alcohol by itself if the receiving authorities can help with the rest,” she tweeted.

She also mentioned on social media that the company had made contact with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency and the Swedish Department of Health.

Rabbit Hole, USA

And in the US, Pernod Ricard’s Arkansas manufacturing plant and distilleries, which are dedicated to producing its whiskey labels Rabbit Hole (Kentucky), Smooth Ambler (West Virginia) and TX Whiskey (Texas) are producing hand sanitizer for the American market.

Psychompomp Microdistillery & Circumstance Distillery, Bristol, UK

While it is perhaps a simpler process for large drinks companies to lend their services to governments as impromptu sanitizer factories, smaller, independent distillers and breweries around the world have also been doing their part for the local community.

In Bristol, UK, Psychompomp Microdistillery & Circumstance Distillery set about making hand sanitizers with 65% ethanol (it is recommended that hand sanitizer contain an ABV of at least 60% to be effective). The gel is also made with gin botanicals already on-hand at the distillery, and aloe vera gel.

The distiller took action earlier this month after finding their local shops had run out due to panic buying in the local area.

Liam Hirt, co-founder of Psychopomp & Circumstance Distillery, said: “The team wanted some hand sanitizer and everywhere was sold out so we decided to make some.”

Rather than selling the rare commodity on for profit, the distillery offered to add a small bottle of sanitizer to every gin order and placed a donation box at the still house.
Customers are being encouraged to bring their own refillable bottles to top up on hand sanitizer, and the donation box at the facility allows health-conscious locals to pay what they like.

Donations will be handed to Bristol children’s hospital charity, The Grand Appeal.

Annex Ale Project, Alberta, Canada

In Canada, local brewer Annex Ale Project has said it will make around 7,000 cans of hand sanitizer each week for the foreseeable future to supply a grocery store in Calgary, Alberta.
“There are these shortages of hand sanitizer all over the city and the World Health Organisation (WHO) put together basically a recipe for anyone that needs to make it, so I figured if I make alcohol most of the time anyway, why not just pivot a little bit,” owner Andrew Bullied told the Calgary Herald.

Annex will produce hand sanitizer based on the WHO recipe, which uses hydrogen peroxide, glycerol and 80 percent ethanol. It will be made from the wash (the final stage of brewing before distillation), with the ethanol being removed and used in the end product.
In a post on Instagram yesterday (18 March), Annex said it hopes to roll out the product by the end of the week.

“We are in a unique position to do this as a brewery because we have a license to acquire and warehouse distilled spirits and a packaging line to be able to put these products into cans,” Annex said.

The product will be sold as sanitizer refills, so those who buy it will need to pour it into a sealable container after opening, such as a soap dispenser or shampoo bottle.

The brewer is working with Raft Beer Labs, a Calgary-based company that does quality assurance for breweries, to create a production package that “we hope to share with other Canadian distillers and brewers that are legally able to blend spirit.”

Corby Spirit and Wine Limited and Hiram Walker & Sons Distillery, Windsor, Ontario

Elsewhere in Canada, Corby Spirit and Wine Limited and its Walkerville Hiram Walker & Sons Distillery in Windsor, Ont. are proud to announce today that they are producing hand sanitizer.

J.P.Wiser’s Canadian whisky, the historic distillery, has been in operation for over 160 years on the banks of the Detroit River, distilling 180,000 litres of alcohol daily, and today will be adding hand sanitizer to its production line.

“Corby is proud to support the efforts of the Canadian and Ontario governments and communities across the country in fighting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Patrick O’Driscoll, Chief Executive Officer of Corby. “In coordination with local and senior levels of government, we are utilizing our production capacity and Windsor distillery to help provide hand sanitizer to areas where it is in need.”

The sanitizer will be donated where needed in Windsor, and to the TTC in Toronto.

New York Distilling Company, New York, USA

A number of distillers are also making their own contribution in the USA. Williamsburg-based New York Distilling Company is using its undiluted Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin to create bulk hand sanitizer.

The recipe is based on CDC recommendations, using two parts uncut gin (about 85% ABV) and aloe vera gel.

As it is based on their Perry’s Tot Gin, it also contains botanicals, providing a scent of juniper berries, citrus peels, and spices, according to the company.

The hand sanitizer isn’t available for sale, but will be offered to people from selected businesses that have existing relationships with New York Distilling, “as a way of offering solidarity, support, and friendship for the local hospitality industry.”

Yahara Bay Distillers, Madison, Wisconsin

Elsewhere in the states, Yahara Bay Distillers is making its own contribution to the hand sanitizer crisis.

Though it is not specifically making hand sanitizer, the distillery, based in Madison, Wisconsin, is working to bottle a super-strength version of its “Just Vodka,” which comes in at 70% ABV, in the hopes it could be used to kill bacteria.

Nels Forde, the general manager, said in a statement that the distillery doesn’t yet have an approved formula and label to make hand sanitizer, something that could take months to gain approval from the American Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.

Instead, it is selling the high-strength vodka without added aloe or another moisturizing element, and the first 75 customers who purchase it will get a free spray bottle or a roll of toilet paper.

The company hopes to start selling the new vodka today March 19.

LVMH / Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy

Luxury goods group LVMH has instructed its perfume and cosmetics division to prepare its facilities to produce “substantial quantities” of hydroalcoholic gel for the French authorities.

Its brands including Dior, Guerlain and Givenchy will start producing the product from today (16 March) in order to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
The gel will then be delivered free of charge to health authorities. LVMH said it will continue to honor this arrangement for “as long as it is necessary”.

Sources:
Drinks Business and Corby Spirit