Talk of further shutdowns is a concerning development for US breweries, bars, restaurants and taprooms, many of them already severely limited by restrictions and struggling to survive.
But with COVID-19 infection numbers rising, many US governors are enacting even greater restrictions, restrictions that could potentially end many small businesses.
Just over the weekend, governors in Washington, Oregon, Michigan banned one-site dining at bars and restaurants and now Ohio is exploring tighter regulations.
Responding to the on-going crisis which may get even more difficult Ohio Craft Brewers Association has issued a media statement, which perfectly encapsulates the situation that many of the nation’s breweries are facing.
And because we found it so important we are republishing the media statement from the Executive Director of the Ohio Craft Brewers Association, Mary MacDonald, in full…
Ohio’s craft breweries have led by example throughout the pandemic crisis, taking extraordinary steps to protect the health and safety of customers and employees.
“Safety and sanitation are necessary parts of the brewing process, and the rigorous standards that apply to the brewhouse are also manifested in the taproom. When the state issued its public health requirements for eating and drinking establishments, craft breweries often went above and beyond the Department of Health’s guidance.
“Breweries were early adopters of touchless ordering as they pivoted their beer sales for curbside pickup and home delivery. Already adept at traditional sanitation, breweries began to implement UV disinfection of surfaces and advanced air filtration to provide clean, safe environments for customers and employees. Breweries even did their part to offset PPE shortages during the early days of the pandemic, donating excess beer in their tanks to distilleries where it was turned into badly-needed hand sanitizer.
“All of these upgrades came with significant investment on top of the costs of hand sanitizer stations, plexiglass barriers and other required measures. With tables appropriately spaced, surfaces rigorously cleaned and mask-wearing enforced for customers and employees, breweries were among the safest places to visit during the pandemic.
“Now, even with all of these safety measures in place, even with data showing that the spread of COVID does not appear to be tied to eating and drinking establishments, even with reports that 95% or more of these establishments are following public health guidelines, the state of Ohio is planning another shutdown of breweries, bars and restaurants.
“Make no mistake: a second shutdown would almost certainly devastate our industry and force many small businesses to close their doors for good.
“Under current conditions, 37% of Ohio breweries report that they are likely to be forced to shut their doors within a year. A second shutdown would surely accelerate the permanent closure of those businesses and could place up to two-thirds of Ohio’s 359 breweries in peril.
“Ohio breweries employed more than 8,000 people before the pandemic, many of whom were furloughed during the first closure and able to be brought back to work with funding from the federal Payroll Protection Program. With Congress unlikely to provide additional stimulus or relief funds in the near future, a second shutdown would result in another massive spike in unemployment and no mechanism to support those workers.
“Ohio breweries are responsible for nearly $1 billion in economic activity within the state. There are breweries in 67 of Ohio’s 88 counties, breathing life into big city neighborhoods and rural communities alike. Breweries are integral parts of their communities, donating more than $1.15 million and 13,000 volunteer hours to charity each year.
“As we have been told repeatedly for the past few months, the rise in COVID-19 cases is directly attributable to unregulated, private gatherings. Because of the exceptional public health measures we have put in place, contact tracing data does not suggest that breweries, bars and restaurants play a significant role in the current upward trends in COVID-19 diagnoses, hospitalizations and deaths.
“As an industry, we are greatly concerned about the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the state, a situation which poses its own challenge to our small businesses. However, the effects of a second shutdown would cripple our industry, cost thousands of Ohio jobs and ultimately doom many small businesses to fail.
“We urge the state to point their efforts toward the irresponsible actors that are perpetuating this crisis and allow Ohio breweries to continue to set the example for how to conduct business safely during the pandemic.”
“Shutdowns were first imposed in Ohio in mid-March, but the hospitality industry was permitted to reopen weeks later as cases went down,” according to Crain’s Cleveland Business, “providing they abide by certain guidelines, including using of masks and physically distancing guests.”