Wine Talk with Alice Swift
COVID-19 and Its Impact on the F&B Industry
In December of 2019, the first COVID-19 case appeared in Wuhan, China. A mere 4 months later, the severe respiratory disease caused by the virus has now traveled to the United States and at least 145 other countries/territories spanning six continents, and was declared a Pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020.
This is the world we live in now. Things are now changing. At the time of this article (mid-March), a domino effect on our daily lives began to appear, causing a ripple effect across the United States. Aspects of life that we take for granted have slowly been evolving... from work, to school, to leisure time and vacations, and now to restaurants and other F&B establishments... things will never be the same again.
News stations have been reporting all the devastating statistics, so there is no need to continue reiterating these facts. It’s been quite disheartening to see the extreme measures being taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 (e.g., hotel and F&B closures, corporate layoffs), but ultimately it’s for the right reasons, to try and slow the virus to a stop.
Education is another majorly impacted industry. In many school districts and higher education institutions across the country, in-person courses have been transitioned to online courses. While actions like this have really resulted in the exponential need for my position as an instructional designer to support online teaching faculty, the closures to mega-tourism or urban epicenters like Las Vegas, New York, Hawaiʻi, etc. have really negatively impacted the food & beverage, hospitality, travel and tourism industries (among many, many others).
Knowing all this, it becomes difficult to see the positive outlook. However, in reading through various current events across the nation, I am inspired by some of the actions being taken to try and give back during this crisis. Here are some of the stories I have been reading about in Hawaiʻi, Nevada and California; I hope that these stories will give you some hope during these tough times.
Distilleries Shift from Hard Liquor to
It’s no surprise that residents globally have been hoarding items like masks and hand sanitizer, causing price hikes that result in massive shortages for those who need them the most: healthcare professionals and medical facilities. The World Health Organization (WHO) published a guide for local production: www.who.int/gpsc/5may/Guide_to_Local_Production.pdf. Surprisingly, guess who answered the call for help? Distilleries!
To help with the shortage of hand sanitizer, local distilleries from coast to coast across the country (and even internationally) have been converting their spirits distilleries to hand sanitizer production facilities. AMASS (www.amass.com), based in Los Angeles, originally produced premium botanic gin and vodka. They now make a 16-oz and 2-oz alcohol-based botanic hand wash. Even larger producers, such as Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Anheuser-Busch and Pernod Ricard SA are jumping on the bandwagon. The TTB has allowed distillation businesses to produce hand sanitizer without authorization, and many businesses in fact are donating rather than selling to those in need.
Closed Restaurants Donate Perishable Foods
During this COVID-19 crisis, many school districts have gone so far as to extend spring break, transition courses to online learning, or even shut down schools for the school year. However, there are many students who rely on school lunch programs for assistance, and without school, there are many who are food insecure and in need of meals. Throughout the country, there are many restaurants, businesses and other generous people who are helping support those in need.
In Las Vegas, you’ve probably heard about the temporary closures of hotels up and down the Strip, along with the growing number of reduction in workforce. This was a huge decision that had to be made for the health and safety of the people of Nevada, despite the opposing consequences. However, due to the closure of MGM Resorts properties, and the connected food venues within their portfolio of hotels, they decided to donate their food shipments to Three Square Food Bank along with other food donation facilities and community partners.
Want to Help?
Would you like to do your part and help others during this crisis? Check out these resources to learn more:
• Donate to your local blood bank, food banks, and shelters.
• Donate to the United Way COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund (https://secure.unitedway.org/j/step/covid19-donate).
• Help those in need! Why not be a good Samaritan and offer to pick up groceries for any elderly neighbors you might have on your next trip to the grocery store?
• Check out this PBS article for more ways to support: How to Help Others in the COVID-19 Crisis (www.pbs.org/newshour/health/how-to-help-others-in-the-covid-19-crisis).
Our world is changing, and it is up to us to make the world a better place. Despite the craziness our world is going through right now, try to see the positive in the situation. We can only hope that this crisis will begin to subside in the near future and our F&B industry can move towards recovery from this life-altering period.
Until next month, Cheers~!