Belgian businesses from the chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food sectors have helped the country avoid a shortage of hand sanitiser by switching production to make up the shortfall, the industry associations Fevia (food) and Essenscia (chemicals) have said.
“Thanks to excellent cooperation between government and industry, coordinated by the federal task force, companies from different sectors have joined forces,” the two federations said in a joint communique.
“More than 100 companies, including breweries and distilleries, as well as chemical and pharmaceutical companies, obtained a temporary authorisation to produce disinfectant products, while the producers of existing detergents have considerably increased their production.”
The switch in production allowed Belgian industry to produce one million litres of sanitiser in a short period, while the potential production has been raised to five million litres by the grant of temporary licences.
The production of sanitiser containing alcohol, needed to create the needed hygienic conditions in the fight against the coronavirus, requires a government licence. The producers of alcoholic drinks were among the first to request permission to produce sanitisers, since they already have the equipment to distil alcohol.
Those companies who have switched their product lines to produce hand sanitiser will be exempt from paying excise duty on the product for as long as the crisis lasts.
For hospitals alone, the federal health ministry has estimated the demand for sanitiser at 67,000 litres a week.