Nfld. & Labrador

Production increased at Molson Coors brewery in St. John's — for now

This is typically the time when Molson Coors would ramp up production to prepare for Victoria Day long weekend and summer. They're still doing that, but know it could end any day.

Breweries still open, but taking precautions

Molson Coors is ramping up production at its facility in St. John's in advance of the summer season. It may be for nothing, however, as the country battles the COVID-19 pandemic. (CBC)

Employees at the Molson Coors brewery in St. John's are ramping up at a time when everyone else is ramping down, but they know it could end any day.

Greg Pretty, a union rep for the brewery workers, said they have concerns about safety but appreciate the extra steps being taken while they prepare inventory for what would normally be the Victoria Day weekend and start of summer.

The increase in production has nothing to do with people staying home from work across the province.

"Sunshine drives beer. I'm not really sure a pandemic does," Pretty said.

The work is split into two shifts, totalling 55 workers. The building is laid out in a way that people are not working side-by-side, Pretty said, so spreading through person-to-person contact is not a big concern, and the surfaces are sanitized every hour to try to avoid the spread of COVID-19 if it does make its way into the facility.

Workers have never seen this amount of tension and apprehension in their lifetime- Greg Pretty

Pretty said the situation is being assessed every day, and they know it all could come to an end at any moment.

"People are concerned whether or not they'll have a job in the very near future but right now production continues at Molson Coors St. John's."

The same union — Fish, Food & Allied Workers — also represents fish harvesters, fish plant processors, and hotel and restaurant workers. 

Pretty said it's a scary time for everyone.

"Workers have never seen this amount of tension and apprehension in their lifetime."

Other smaller breweries changing services

Justin Fong of Quidi Vidi Brewing said it's a devastating time for business owners like himself.

They aren't shutting down entirely, but will only be doing delivery services for the time being.

"I don't think we're going to be able to recover from that," he said. "But this is a way to still sell some beer while keeping transmission rates low."

Justin Fong is the owner of Quidi Vidi Brewing in St. John's. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Fong said a delivery driver will drop the beer outside your door. Customers will have to show a piece of ID, but the delivery person won't touch it.

Quidi Vidi is also selling bingo cards for a game hosted Saturday on Facebook Live. Proceeds will go toward the Community Food Sharing Association.

All craft breweries in the province have taken measures. Some, like Landwash in Mount Pearl and Split Rock in Twillingate, have decided to close. Others, such as Bannerman, have gone to takeout services with reduced hours.

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