COVID-19 outbreak causes craft brewery tasting rooms to close, reduce capacity across B.C.

Victoria’s Vancouver Island Brewing has opted to close its tasting room this week in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Contributed photo

The latest casualty in the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak appears to be B.C.’s craft brewery tasting rooms. A number of breweries around the province have opted to reduce capacity and in some cases shut down completely in order to stop the transmission of the virus.

So far, 103 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in B.C., with four deaths. More than 6,300 individuals have been tested as of March 13, 2020.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced new measures to help curb the spread of the disease on Monday, including closing casinos and banning gatherings of more than 50 people.

“We have also taken additional action to enhance social distancing and limit transmission. These efforts are not forever, but they are important for now,” said Dix. “We are issuing a new order prohibiting all public gatherings of more than 50 people. This includes indoor and outdoor sporting events, conferences, meetings, religious gatherings and other similar events.”

In response, a number of B.C. craft brewery tasting rooms have curtailed their operations and cancelled events as a result. Others have stopped filling growlers or have put new sanitization procedures in place.

In Victoria, Vancouver Island Brewing has shut its tasting room this week and will be re-evaluating next week.

“In light of COVID-19, we are taking social distancing seriously to protect our staff and customers,” the brewery stated on social media Monday morning.

Hoyne Brewing has stopped serving flights and growler refills at its growler bar. Retail sales and new growler fills remain open, however.

In Vancouver, Container Brewing is one of many that have suspended cash sales and has also reduced its capacity to 34 seats to bring it under the 50-person limit for gatherings.

“These are difficult and unusual times right now and we are all faced with tough decisions,” the brewery stated on social media Monday afternoon. “We at Container Brewing are having to make new choices everyday as our environment changes around us.”


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These are difficult and unusual times right now and we are all faced with tough decisions. We at Container Brewing are having to make new choices everyday as our environment changes around us. Social responsibility is real and we are doing our best to make sense of how to fit into the world today. Staying informed and vigilant to maintain the health of our community is important. With the Public Health Officials recommendations we will be implementing the following changes in our lounge going forward and update them as the situation progresses. Our lounge will remain open but we are reducing our capacity to 34 seats spread out over our two floors. Social distancing friendly. All high use touch points are being sanitized as frequently as possible by our staff, who are washing hands regularly. We encourage you to wash and sanitize  your hands upon your arrival. Retail sales remain open during business hours. Growler fills have been suspended but we are well stocked on 4-packs of 473mL cans. Cash sales have been suspended, cards are happily accepted, TAP preferred. We will review our hours but will be open as usual today 3pm-10pm We respect and encourage individuals decisions in helping to reduce the impact of COVID-19. While we all do our part, please remember to continue supporting small business any way that you can so that we are all here when life returns to normal. Thank you for the support and please stay safe.

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Langley’s Dead Frog Brewing has cancelled all upcoming tasting room events, including Tuesday’s St. Patrick’s Day Party. Like many breweries, it’s stepping up cleaning frequency and will be reducing capacity in the tasting room.

For more information and updates on COVID-19, visit the federal government’s webpage here

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