As governments announce plans to re-start the economy, the B.C. wine industry needs to develop a set of operating protocols that will allow us to operate tasting rooms responsibly. We need to do this collectively, as a community, to maintain customer confidence, to protect our employees and guests, and to forestall our overly zealous regulators from imposing far less sensible rules than we can design ourselves. We need to work together right now so that we are ready when opening day comes.
Don’t misinterpret the recent announcements as meaning that your tasting room will be re-opening anytime soon. If you are an optimist, think about maybe re-opening in July or August; but also realize that we may lose the whole 2020 season and maybe even 2021.
In recent weeks attention has shifted from the primary goal of containing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak to asking whether it’s time to start reopening the economy and relaxing restrictions.
The rate of new Covid-19 cases has been leveling off in B.C., fewer people are being hospitalized and even fewer are in intensive care.
People who have been staying at home and physically distancing in public are getting antsy – especially those with young children underfoot.
And while some businesses are doing well in these unusual times, overall the economy has slowed to levels not seen since the Great Depression. Workers are laid off, and many businesses that were already struggling may not recover, even when the virus is gone.
Surviving Covid-19 requires that winery owners be quick to comprehend the overall severity of the pandemic, accept the economic reality of the situation and adjust their business plans accordingly.
The immediate impact of the pandemic has been a significant increase in overall wine and liquor sales, coupled with a seismic shift in distribution channels. Consumers in isolation are both increasing consumption and stockpiling in the face of ongoing uncertainty. Sales through the tasting room and restaurant channels have collapsed; replaced by dramatic increases in direct delivery/internet sales and in the liquor retail and grocery sales channels.
Recovery will be mostly up to us – our hard work, persistence and innovation. But government needs to help by reforming some of the rules that have slowed industry growth and which will now impede our recovery. Examples include the restrictions on the interprovincial shipment of wine, the prohibitions on secondary tasting rooms and the unavailability of wholesale pricing to restaurants in the hospitality industry. Removal of these restrictions would do much to aid the recovery. Continue reading “Guest Comment: A pandemic survival guide for B.C. wineries – How to weather the coronavirus”
When U.S. President Donald Trump mused last week about reopening the Canada-U.S. border, there were gasps from many Canadians, fearing an influx of Covid-infected Americans.
At a time when most Canadian provinces – Quebec and Ontario being the exceptions – have been gaining some control over the spread of the novel coronavirus, the situation in the U.S. is raging out of control.
But Trump has no more power to unilaterally open the border than he has to force states to scrap their social distancing measures. And Canadian authorities quickly responded that it was too soon.
Getting exercise and fresh air is essential for your physical and mental health, even during these times of physical distancing and isolation. More accurately, especially during these times when many people are under stress.
Walking is great exercise that most people can do. It restores the mind and body. I find I sleep better if I’ve had a chance to take a good walk.
But mixed messages from public health authorities have left many people confused about what they can and can’t do to get exercise.
Some interpret the message to “stay home” a little too literally as meaning you shouldn’t step outside your door. Worse, these people sometimes make it their mission to attack others who might go out for fresh air.
As my fridge and kitchen cupboards got emptier and emptier in recent days, I realized I would have to make another dreaded trip to the grocery store.
I’ve been trying to limit my grocery shopping to once every two weeks to avoid unnecessary exposure to other people. But I only managed to hold out for 11 days. My eggs, bread and other items were all gone. The remaining small amount of milk in my jug was starting to smell.
I’ve also been holding out on a few other items I’ve needed or wanted. Prescriptions down to the last pills. A needed hardware item. And, since I don’t intend to give up all alcohol until a vaccine is available, a trip to the liquor store.
Health agencies in Canada and the U.S. have now done a 180-degree turn on their previous advice that healthy people should not wear homemade face masks.
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s public health officer, in the past has opposed the use of homemade masks, arguing that they give people a false sense of security and that people might spread infection when they remove the masks. She continues to make those arguments.