While bars and nightclubs in Florida are closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, some Tampa Bay area breweries and distilleries are changing their specialties to start producing and bottling hand sanitizers.
St. Petersburg’s 3 Daughters Brewing is one of those breweries.
“One thing we can do is re-purpose our equipment and materials to produce our own hand sanitizer,” the company said on its Facebook page. Response was so great to the company's initial plan to hand out 4 oz. bottles to the public - which would have put too many people in one place - that they switched instead to donating them to various local charities.
Motorworks Brewing, which is based in Bradenton, has already started facing the consequences of state measures that closed bars and tasting rooms to curtail coronavirus.
“Our bar is completely shut down for 30 days,” said Barry Elwonger, Motorworks' director of sales and marketing. “Our restaurants are shut down throughout the state. We're fortunate that we're able to can products for grocery and liquor stores that are still available. But, apart from that, my business is completely shut down right now.”
And while Kozuba & Sons Distillery in St. Petersburg had to put the production of alcoholic beverages on hold, they also cancelled tours and tastings and postponed upcoming events.
Now, these businesses are focusing their energies on producing bottles of hand sanitizer.
Kozuba & Sons expect to start delivering 8 oz. bottles of sanitizer on Monday. Proprietor Matthias Kozuba said they are following World Health Organization regulations in producing the product; then, they had to figure out a way to distribute it that sticks to social distancing recommendations.
“In order to avoid hoarding and large gatherings, people lining up outside, that's against the social distancing policy that is now in place,” said Kozuba. “We couldn't just let them come to the store to pick it up. So that's why we decided to work on the logistics with the city.”
For now, the breweries and distilleries are donating the hand sanitizer they produce to first responders and charities. They will also distribute it with the help of local authorities.
One of the biggest challenges is finding packages for the sanitizer.
“It's really difficult to get the bottles to the dispensers. So we're doing our best to secure the supplies,” said Kozuba.
In some cases, that forces them to get creative.
“We were able to find a water bottle manufacturer to get empty water bottles as well as the lids. So we've been able to do the hand sanitizer in more of a bolt fashion. And that way we've been able to get it out to different first responders today,” said Elwonger.
The breweries and distilleries are considering producing the hand sanitizer as long as supplies are needed..
“For now, as long as there is demand and there's a lack of the product on the market, we'll keep on making hand sanitizers and obviously as long as we can get all necessary supplies,” said Kozuba. “I think there's social responsibility and also the fact that we want to help support our local communities because we are a part of the local community.”