B.C. brewers and distillers produce hand sanitizer for front line workers in COVID-19 fight

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Breweries and distilleries across the province are responding to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak by shifting production from hazy IPAs and botanical gins to making hand sanitizer for front line workers.

The key ingredient in hand sanitizer is ethyl alcohol, something breweries and distilleries are already designed to produce.

Parallel 49 Brewing in Vancouver is producing canned hand sanitizer using ethyl alcohol, glycerin and peroxide, to be used as refills for hand pumps. The brewery will be donating the sanitizer to local businesses and charities.

“We decided to step in and see where we could help, and they were requesting hand sanitizer — everybody’s out of it,” co-owner Mike Sleeman told CTV News. “Making beer is our first priority but we’re all in this together and we’re in a unique situation to help out.”

It isn’t just craft breweries that are helping out. Labatt Breweries is shifting production from beer to hand sanitizer across the country including its Goodridge & Williams distilling location in Delta. Initial production is expected to produce 50,000 bottles of hand sanitizers, which will be donated to Food Banks Canada as well as to frontline workers and partners in the restaurant and bar industry.

“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.”


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It sucks out there right now. In addition to social distancing and hand washing, sanitizing can really help to protect ourselves and vulnerable members of our community. Hoarding hurts everyone. To try and do a little good, Wayward has ramped up production of hand sanitizer and spray sanitizer and will start distributing them to people and organizations in need for free tomorrow. Priority will go to First Responders, medical staff and charitable organizations who are in need, followed by individuals and families that are unable to purchase sanitzer (see hoarding fucking sucks ⬆️) Hand Sanitizer is prebottled and (owing to shortages in Aloe Vera gel) in very limited quantities to start. Most of our initial production will go to first responders and organizations, with smaller bottles for individuals hopefully available by the weekend. Spray Sanitizer is in bulk and intended primarily for surfaces. Bring in your own spritzing container and we will fill it (upto 250ml for individuals, no limit for First Responders or health workers) We implore you to remember that you are part of your community in times like these. If you don’t need it, don’t stockpile it. Check in on your neighbours. Stay home if you feel sick and practice good hygiene. And please remember that social distancing doesn’t mean buy everything on Amazon. Without your support many of the local business that you love will not make it through this. Please reach out via DM or email if your organization could use some 🙂 #stopcovoid19 #fuckcovid19 #sanitizer #freesanitizer #comoxvalley #washyourhands #beeunruly

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Distilleries across the province are also producing and donating hand sanitizer. Wayward Distillery in Courtenay was one of the first distilleries in B.C. to switch to sanitizer production more than a week ago, distributing it fro free to first responders, medical staff and charitable organizations who are in need. Shelter Point Distillery on Vancouver Island recently temporarily suspended its distilling operations in order to switch production to manufacturing medical grade sanitizer to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The distillery has retooled and gone from single malt to sanitizer in a matter of days.

“Our number one priority is to ensure that first responders have ample supplies in order to do their jobs and save lives,” the distillery stated on social media earlier today. “We are starting locally, supplying our towns, communities and First Nations Health Authorities on the island. We will subsequently expand production and distribution to supply crucial services across the province as required.”

While hand sanitizer products are normally classified as non-prescription drugs, Health Canada recently eased restrictions to allow access to products that don’t fully meet the regulatory requirements under the Food and Drugs Act due to high demand.

“Health Canada will allow these low-risk products to be distributed in Canada to address the current shortage in supplies,” said Health Canada spokesperson André Gagnon. “As with all health products, Health Canada will continue to monitor the safety of these products once they are on the market and will take action to protect the health and safety of Canadians, if necessary.”

The provincial government has similarly approved temporarily increasing production of alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Until now, distilleries and other licensed manufacturers would have required discretionary authorization from the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. Given the current COVID-19 provincial health emergency, distilleries and breweries are permitted to produce such products.

Public health officials are reminding the public that the best way to prevent COVID-19 transmission is by thorough handwashing with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds

So far, 617 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in B.C., with 13 deaths. More than 27,000 individuals have been tested as of March 24, 2020. Globally, close to 21,000 people have died from COVID-19, with 460,000+ cases in 196 countries being reported.

  • With files from Business in Vancouver

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