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Carib Brewery employees pack boxes of hand sanitisers to distribute to members of the essential services at the brewery in Champ Fleurs yesterday.

Derek Achong

The ANSA McAL Group of Companies has begun producing complimentary hand sanitisers for distribution members of the essential services who are on the frontline during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

In a brief presentation yesterday, as he took a break from assisting employees of its subsidiary Carib Brewery in filling thousands of branded 500 ml bottles, the conglomerate’s Beverage Sector Head Peter Hall explained that the move was part of the group’s “From Our Family to Yours” initiative in response to the pandemic.

The distribution of the hand sanitisers is expected to begin tomorrow with the launch of the National Applause Initiative, a joint project of ANSA McAL, I Support Our Service (ISOS) and ReThink Consultancy.

Hall explained that it was implemented to help supply essential employees in particular, noting they may have been affected by panic buying and price gouging of such products because they have not been able to make the time to acquire such supplies due to their duties.

“A lot of the people we are thanking and recognising through our National Applause initiative are having great difficulty in accessing and securing hand sanitiser that they need to do their jobs,” Hall said

Hall said the company was seeking to produce 40,000 bottles for distribution tomorrow and approximately 100,000 in total.

“At Carib Brewery, we feel that this is a very small but important contribution we can make both to the National Applause initiative and in the fight against the coronavirus,” he said.

Hall explained that it took about a week for the company’s technical staff to figure out how to produce the high percentage alcohol required for the production of hand sanitiser, noting they normally produce alcoholic beverages with a maximum content of seven to eight per cent. He said the company’s sanitiser contains 70 per cent alcohol, lemongrass essential oil, tea tree essential oil and a gelling agent.

“We have taken care to create what we believe is a really great product,” Hall said.

The products are expected to be distributed to police, fire and prison officers, members of the Regiment, private security guards and others deemed essential during the Government’s ongoing Stay-at-Home measure.

Hall noted that staff from all the brewery’s departments, including executives and managers, volunteered to work in the outdoor production line for bottling, labelling and boxing the sanitisers.

During Guardian Media’s tour of the operation, participating employees were all seen wearing recommended personal protective equipment (PPE) and attempting to practice social distancing as they completed their tasks. Asked whether the temporary shift in production and issues associated with the pandemic would affect supply of the company’s popular alcoholic products, Hall said no.

“Production is running well. We have inventory of all our brands at the moment. There will be no problem with the supply of beers, ciders and malts from the brewery,” he said.

Through the National Applause initiative, citizens are being asked to go outside their home or pause whatever they are doing to loudly applaud those on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic at 10 am tomorrow.