Another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic has come to light after it was announced that Corona beer production will be suspended due to the outbreak.
Although the beer brand became an unfortunate punchline for the crisis, people mistaking it for the coronavirus is not the reason production is being suspended. Rather, the Mexican government has deemed the product non-essential.
The news prompted panic-buying with pictures showing some shops with pushcarts filled to the brim with beer.
Grupo Modelo, the brewery that produces Corona, announced that its operations would be scaled down to a “bare minimum” following the Mexican government’s orders.
Still, the company suggested that if its operations were defined as agriculture, which is allowed, it can continue to brew beer.
Grupo Modelo said that the suspension would be complete in the next few days. Other export brands that the brewery carries are Pacifico and Modelo.
The operations will be reduced to a level that can easily be ramped up once the suspension is ended. Grupo Modelo added that “if the government considers it appropriate to issue some clarification confirming beer as an agro-industrial product” then production can continue.
“We are ready to execute a plan with more than 75 percent of our staff working from home and at the same time guaranteeing the supply of beer,” a statement said.
The Mexican government only allows certain key sectors to keep functioning, among them agriculture and food production.
To slow the spread of the virus, non-essential activities were suspended for a month at minimum starting in April.
Mexican media announced that Heineken, the other major beer producer in Mexico which makes the Tecate and Dos Equis brands, could also stop its operations soon.
A total alcohol ban is so far unfounded but hasn’t stopped people from panic-buying.
Jaime Heliodoro Rodriguez Calderon, the governor of Nuevo Leon, told local media: “Why buy alcohol now and cause a problem?
“Someone can be infected, you are creating risk. You will leave the shop infected and you will infect your children.”
In February, Constellation Brands, which distributes Corona in the US, reported strong sales despite the brand’s unfortunate name.
In a separate blow last week, a referendum rejected plans for a $1.5 billion brewery on the US border. At the time the vote was made, the plant was already two-thirds built.
Even with the rising death toll, Mexico’s deputy health minister said that there have been no plans to close the border.
“There’s no plan because there’s no intention to use the border closure mechanism as if it were a useful mechanism for controlling the epidemic,” said Hugo Lopez-Gatell during the regular evening news conference.
“Although there’s an expectation in the general public’s view that a physical barrier can be put to epidemics, there’s no scientific, historical demonstration that these types of measures are of any use.”