Recently, it has been a favorite game for many to second guess how governors handle reopening their states. Florida is no different in its criticism of Governor Ron DeSantis. Nevertheless, a recent open letter on social media from the Florida Brewers Guild has an urgency to it worth noting. It asks DeSantis and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to decrease restrictions on breweries who do not serve food in house. Those that only brew beer (with the standard-issue food truck typically outside) may only operate as take-out or to-go only businesses right now. The breweries claim that they need to reopen for on-site consumption if they are to survive the coming weeks.
In part, the letter reads:
“The vast majority of over 320 small businesses, representing over 10,000 jobs, are existing solely on a ‘to-go’ model for our products — this constitutes less than 10 percent of our collective sales and is an untenable model for our industry,”
Closures are imminent
The brewers claim that the loss of income could mean that about 100 breweries could close in a matter of a few weeks. Many of those that do will likely close permanently. This could mean a loss of one-third of the 10,000 small business jobs attributed to breweries.
The letter does not list which breweries are in danger of closing, but one-third of the total number will impact even the most casual craft beer enthusiasts, not to mention the State’s tax revenues.
Unfair to brewery culture?
It is great for the hospitality industry that bars and restaurants are open in a limited capacity. Still, the June 26 rule to shutter those businesses which derive more than 50% of their income from alcohol sales could spell the end for breweries and many other hospitality businesses. The rule also may seem a bit misguided for breweries with tasting rooms. The rule was instituted to keep crowds out of the bars due to the rising number of coronavirus cases transmitted among patrons, but breweries often function more as family-friendly spaces that shut down at 8 p.m., with less likelihood of social distancing violations.
As this pandemic wears on, these pleas and news of closings will become commonplace as many breweries, bars serving drinks and other hospitality businesses shut temporarily or permanently.