Re-Opening Your Brewery After Coronavirus-Related Shutdown

How do you plan to re-open your brewery, following the coronavirus-related closure or curtailment of business mandated by your state government?

Even if the state in which your brewery operates doesn’t yet have a “we’re re-opening for business” timeline yet, now is the time to make your re-opening plans. After all, resuming business is not as simple as flipping the switch on your OPEN sign.

As the Brewers Association points out, regulators will want assurances that you “have adapted your service model to safeguard customer and employee health, and have implemented practices that mitigate viral exposure.”

Your plan should clearly communicate how your brewery, brew-pub, or taproom is minimizing risk. It should instill confidence not only in regulators, but also in your customers and staff. What should you consider as you put your plan together?

Preparing for Re-Opening

The Basics

  • Review guidance from OSHA and the CDC, as well as requirements from federal, state, and local governments. Areas you’ll need to focus on:
  1. cleaning and disinfection guidance
  2. best practices for social distancing
  3. training staff to minimize viral contamination.
  • Drill down to specifics.
  1. What will you need to do to maintain social distancing?
  2. How will you manage patrons waiting to come inside?
  3. Will you need to provide hand-sanitizer stations for patrons, or purchase additional hand sanitizer or gloves for employees?
  4. What cleaning products will you provide for patron use (sanitizing wipes for door handles?)?
  5. Will you need to install touch-free soap and paper towel dispensers?
  6. Create a log for employees to sign to verify cleaning of high-touch areas: bathrooms, the wait area, tables, chairs, barstools, door handles, and kitchen.
  7. Will your transaction policy change—for instance, will you stop accepting cash payments?

Focus on Employees

  • Be sure your team understands how to correctly wear, maintain, and dispose of gloves and face shields.
  • Create new policies for
  1. taking temperatures before a shift
  2. what events require an employee be sent home
  3. timing and frequency for hand-washing
  • Once you have developed any new policies regarding employee health and safety, communicate them fully to staff. Be sure to have employees sign a sheet verifying that they’ve received training on all new procedures.

Focus on the Property

  • Take advantage of the time before you re-open.
  1. check your fire extinguishers and fire suppression system
  2. re-fill floor, sink, and equipment drain traps
  3. do a deep cleaning of the brewery and taproom.
  • Make sure sewer lines are fully operational and not malodorous.
  • If your draught system has been shut down, carefully follow steps for re-opening.
  • Check gas and water lines.
  • Review your business plan and insurance. Your business model may change, or have changed already, and you will need to confer with your brewery insurance agent to make sure you are covered. For instance, if you’re now doing delivery and employees are using their own vehicles, that’s a risk exposure likely not covered by your current policy. If you are pivoting from taproom sales to off-premise consumption, that’s a different rate structure that will impact your premium.

Closing your brewery due to coronavirus-related safety measures was tough. Re-opening it is going to be tough, too—but it’s a huge step in the direction you want to go: returning to brewing and serving great beer. Carefully thinking through changes that you’ll need to make, reviewing important documents, and making sure your equipment and utilities are running smoothly will be a tremendous help in getting your brewery back on track.