On Tuesday the ACSA held a complimentary webinar that focused on the effect of COVID-19 in Distilling Tasting Rooms. There to answer questions and discuss what’s currently known was three panelists in industry fields related to COVID-19; Wendy Grace, MD from the Southwest Montana Community Health Center, Tom Mooney, Co-Owner and CEO of Westward® American Single Malt, and James Hyland, the President and Counsel of the Pennsylvania Avenue Group.
In terms of the COVID-19 virus, there’s still a lot to be learned. According to Dr. Wendy Grace, there are two populations of people with the virus; those who show symptoms, and those who don’t. Those who don’t show symptoms can still spread the virus, which currently is listed to be able to stay on surfaces for up to nine days, according to Dr. Grace. In order to prevent the virus spreading at a faster rate, social distancing is being employed. Given that there aren’t currently enough tests in the US, social distancing “makes the most sense.”
At this time there are no clear vectors of transmission. This means that no one can confirm if it’s spread through droplets/fluids, if it’s airborne, etc. To keep surfaces and your hands clean, the WHO has released a hand sanitizer recipe for people to create their own hand sanitizer at home while shortages continue. And as always, wear a mask if you’re sick!
When it comes to making business decisions during this time, Tom Mooney recommends keeping your team in the loop. As information continued to rapidly change and progress, his team kept up internal discussion on what to do with their tasting room and production. In making the message to the public on closing the tasting room, Mooney said his staff made the message. Everyone decided on it together. “We’re using a big radar, and nothing is off of it.”
He also noted that some of the strongest companies in history came out of economically challenging times. “This can be an opportunity to come out stronger than you were going in, to see ideas and opportunities you wouldn’t have seen before.”
In terms of production, as of the webinar Tuesday, Mooney says they are still going to produce at 100%, but that can chance as the situation advances. “If we can do it, we’re gonna do it.”
However, Mooney does encourage looking at the savings of stopping production, since there are still other expenditures to pay, such as rent and utilities.
For business relief, there’s a lot still being processed in both the House and the Senate. James Hyland explained that the House passed a bill for COVID-19 relief this past weekend that covers things like: 2 weeks of paid sick leave, tax credits for employers, 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, etc. This covers businesses 500 people or less, so that smaller businesses can be protected financially during this crisis. As for businesses smaller than 50, it’s not certain if those are covered, but Senate will be focusing on another bill in the coming days that fills in any gaps that the House bill may miss. Live updates on bills and relief packages being passed by Congress can be found on Rollcall.com, and Politico.com per recommendation by Hyland.
Dr. Grace recommends following John Hopkins for resources on current COVID-19 numbers and what to do to keep yourself healthy. The CDC is not open on weekends and often can be behind on numbers as a result.
Hyland offers up the recommendations to follow Congress and relief bills through Rollcall.com and Politico.com for up-to-date happenings in DC. CSPAN additional gives live coverage as things change from moment to moment.
The ACSA has the full complimentary webinar for your convenience on their website.