Coronavirus: breweries get green light to switch to hand sanitiser production

Coronavirus: breweries get green light to switch to hand sanitiser production
Breweries and distilleries will make the switch from booze to hand gel as the government relaxed manufacturing rules in a bid to make up for shortages of alcohol-based disinfectants. Credit: Stock image/Pixabay

Belgium has given the go-ahead to breweries, distilleries and other recognised alcohol-makers to exceptionally produce disinfecting hand gel as demand surges due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Companies in the food industry are to use alcohol resulting from their manufacturing in the production of "large quantities of hand gel and other disinfecting products," industry association Fevia announced.

The public finance services (FPS Finances) updated regulations on Sunday, and "until further notice," in an effort to provide a solution to medical workers facing plummeting supplies of disinfectant products.

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The move also comes as a surge in demand among the public has sent in-store prices soaring — if the products are not completely out of stock.

As the ever-rising demand for disinfecting products continued to wipe out supermarkets' and pharmacies' stocks, Belgium last week issued an order making the disinfecting gels and face masks available only by prescription.

The new rules were welcomed by the industry, with Fevia and other brewer and alcohol-makers federations saying in an online statement that it was an "important step in the fight" against the pandemic.

"We are very satisfied that the government adjusted current permits and tax regulations. Exceptional times call for exceptional measures, such as this one," Fevia wrote.

The association said that the disinfectants produced as a result of the new regulations would be destined to medical staff as well as to other "essential industries."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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