Now as Arizona deals with new virus cases, much of his remaining 1,000 gallons of sanitizer has sat idle. He blamed the changing demand on the “vacillating” by officials over the pandemic’s severity and their “flip-flopping” over which businesses could reopen — and stay open.
“The bigger frustrating issue is the the fits and starts,” he said. “A lot of these bars and restaurants don’t know if they’re open today, if they’re open tomorrow.”
To help distillers, advocacy groups like the Distilled Spirits Council have lobbied Congress to provide economic relief. They also want the F.D.A. to specify how long it will allow sanitizer production by distillers to continue, to give the businesses some certainty.
Some states, like California and many of those In New England, have also temporarily suspended laws that prohibit distilleries from directly shipping alcohol to consumers. In states where those rules haven’t been changed, some distillers said their willingness to make and donate hand sanitizer during a crisis merited a reprieve from the shipping restrictions.
Distillers “have absolutely done their civic duty,” said Mr. McDaniel, who is the also president of the Florida Distillers’ Guild, an advocacy group. Now “they’re all on life support.”
For some distilleries weighing whether to continue sanitizer production, the decision was easy: no way.
Barry Butler, the owner of Tarpon Springs Distillery In Tarpon Springs, Fla., had teamed up with a nearby rum distillery to give away about 15,000 gallons of sanitizer and had made $40,000 by selling 10,000 gallons more. But when demand plummeted In June, he returned to producing moonshine and ouzo, a Greek liquor.