Trump Offers Phased Guidelines to Reopen Bars and Restaurants

Dear Client: 

While the reopening of the on-premise — nay, The Country — is still largely theoretical, at least now we have a faint blueprint. 

President Trump used his ongoing evening press conference stage last night to articulate a plan to reopen the country. There are no hard and fast start dates, and directives are to be considered on a local basis, by local authorities (you can see the full slideshow on

The starting point: After meeting regional “gating criteria,” including a downward trajectory of cases “within a 14-day period” and hospitals ability to “treat all patients without crisis care,” states and/or localities could begin Phase One of a plan to open businesses and public life again, per a three-step approach. 

Restaurants and bars were explicitly named in the plan:

In Phase One, “bars should remain closed.”

But restaurants could be reopened, per “large venue” permissibilities. That grouping includes “sit-down dining, movie theaters, sporting venues,” and “places of worship,” which “can operate under strict physical distancing protocols” in the initial phase of re-opening. 

Then comes Phase Two, “for states and regions with no evidence of a rebound” that again pass that original gating criteria.  

In this phase, bars can begin to reopen “with diminished standing-room occupancy, where applicable and appropriate.” Restaurants can continue to operate under slightly less stringent (i.e. “moderate”) physical distancing protocols. 

Notably, Phase Two allows non-essential travel to resume, but employers should “encourage telework” where possible.

Phase Three is close to outta the woods. It’s for regions “with no evidence of a rebound,” and that again satisfy that original gating criteria (again, for case trajectory and hospital loads). 

This final phase looks something like our pre-COVID lives, though not completely. For example, here, employers can now “resume unrestricted staffing of worksites.” But even low-risk individuals are advised to ” consider minimizing time spent in crowded environments.” Bye bye, Bonnaroo.

Large venues (again, restaurants and venues)  can operate under “limited physical distancing protocols.” And “bars may operate with increased standing room occupancy, where applicable.”


Thursday morning Evercore’s Robert Ottenstein broke news to us of extended quarantine measures in Mexico.

At the moment, it now appears shutterings could continue until at least May 17 in some less-affected areas, and May 30 in others. 

“Re-opening will be by location based upon rate of virus transmission, rather than by activity,” Evercore relayed, while “municipalities with no transmission will resume all activities (including production) on May 17.” 

It appears that “the biggest metropolitan areas” like “[Mexico] City, Monterrey, Guadalajara, Tijuana and Mexicali” have the “highest transmission.” That makes it seem likely those areas could get bumped to the “other” resume day of June 1.  

Mexican brewers from ABI, Heineken, and Constellation are trying to make sense of the information, which seems to change on a daily basis. 

From what we can gather, Constellation is still operating at a reduced rate in the area, meaning they are likely just keeping basic functions open so the brewery remains maintained. 

GRUPO MODELO SUSPENDS BREWING WITH LATEST GUIDANCE. Meanwhile, global ABI issued a statement to BBD yesterday on the developing situation in Mexico. It appears they’re ramping down (again), after having believed last week that they were protected agribusinesses. 

“After the most recent guidelines from the Mexican government, Grupo Modelo has suspended both its brewing and distribution activities. We continue to work with the Mexican government in this fast-changing environment and will continue doing our part in the fight against COVID-19. We look forward to resuming our operations when appropriate. The health and safety of our people and our communities remains our top priority.”

Of course, prolonged shut-downs could make things problematic for Mexican brewers. 

LOTS OF DEVELOPMENTS, AND REVERSALS, TO NOW. We’ve been covering the back-and-forth of Mexico’s COVID-time measures, and how they affect the brewing industry. Recall, at the turn of the month, Mexico issued a federal decree shuttering non-essential businesses through April 30, and it appeared that only non-alcoholic beverages were considered essential. (It seemed for a second late last week that brewing operations were essential as agribusiness, but that was promptly negated by the health minister.)

Among this hoopla, brewers like Constellation have said they will continue Mexican production, albeit at a lesser degree: Last Wednesday they pledged “to reduce … brewery production activities in Mexico to a level that safeguards the environment and avoids irreversible impact to its operations.” It’s anyone’s guess as to how much they’re actually producing — or if they’re simply, doing minimal maintenance to their system to keep it at the ready, while it’s otherwise down. 

Chief Bill Newlands has continually expressed their confidence in supply to the U.S. on their April 3 earnings call, noting roughly 70 days of inventory in the system (not including what’s at retail) with more than 80% of that already in the U.S. They did not anticipate “any near-term service disruption to retailers.”

PUNISHMENTS FOR NON-COMPLIANT BUSINESSES?  After the news hit about extended non-essential closures in Mexico yesterday, BBD intercepted a letter (nefariously as always) from an Mexican law firm, advising readers that Mexico’s “leading health official” has identified a list of industries that have so far refused to suspend activities that are considered non-essential. Beer was not mentioned, but similar industries – like tobacco – were, though the list did not appear to be exhaustive (it included “other non-essential industries”). 

In any case: “In cases where a crime may have been committed as a result of the failure to abide by the instructions to close, in that case the District Attorney will investigate and prosecute,” the law firm advised. 


I got a call last week from my old friend Lance Abbott of BevCap Management, a captive insurance program for beer distributors, who said their risk management committee has held several conference calls on best practices during these times, and was generous enough to share their notes.  

ED NOTE:  I also spoke with BevCap directors Laura Markstein-Gallagher of Markstein Sales Company in the Bay Area of NorCal, who dealt with the crisis very early, and John Ufheil of Daytona Beverages in central Florida, who were kind enough to share their experiences.  We spoke of best practices on protecting frontline sales and merchandising folks, dealing with kegs, separating employees, and more. Take a look at our conversation here>>

Here’s a summary of BevCap’s notes from their calls, edited lightly for brevity and clarity.


-In addition to having employees take their PTO and sick time, some employers are offering a 15 day quarantine pay at 66% of their salary. 

-Some have instituted an emergency paid sick leave bank of two weeks that they are permitting employees to use Quarantine for 14 days. After the 14 days, if they show no fever for an additional 72 hours, they can return to work. 

-Notify your employees and quarantine all employees (14 days) who the person worked closely with. If you receive notice from an account that one of their employees tested positive, quarantine your employee for the remaining 14 days of quarantine after computing their last exposure.

-A larger distrib instituted a rotating furlough (40-50 people) in two-week increments. Employees are eligible for unemployment. The company amended its health plan to extend medical benefits coverage during the furlough.

-Some have paid bonuses to some or all employees. One paid a lump sum, split between warehouse, delivery and sales – totaling between $200-$300 per employee per pay period. Will likely do it again in a couple weeks. One is paying every employee $15/day for a week, calling it “Essential Employee Pay”. Another member is calling it “Appreciation Pay” – $200 per employee per paycheck through April. Another gave each employee a $40 gift card to use for takeout at their on-premise accounts. For on-premise sales reps who are helping out in the off-premise, they are paying them their commission component of their pay using their average commission amount from previous paychecks.

-If an employee tests positive, you will need to professionally clean the affected facility and/or vehicle(s). Research and partner with a company that specializes in this type of cleaning now. Don’t wait until you need the service. You can hire companies to come in a clean your facility – either proactively or reactively: ServePro, TalonLPE and Advanced Bio-Treatment (which specializes in infectious diseases) – all charge by the square foot. charges by the hour.

-One wholesaler implemented a two-hour rotation for cleaning of all hard surfaces. Ask drivers to wipe down their cabs and carts to begin and end each day.  

-Make available or reimburse employees for the reasonable cost of any cleaning and sanitizing material that they feel they need to clean their personal workspace regularly. Cleaning and sanitizing supplies are sparse and almost impossible to find at normal retail outlets. If employees find sanitizer, wipes or others supplies to use on the job, including working in the trade, allow them to submit expenses for reimbursement according to company policy.

-Suspend signatures on phones where legal – drivers always retain their phone on their person.

-Explicitly tell field personnel not to shake hands and provide guidance on how to politely decline.  

(Ed. Note:  I’ve taken to emulating my hero Thomas Jefferson, with my hands together and bending at the waist, “We bow in the plague season.”) 

-Only one driver allowed in driver room and at cash machine at a time; cash machine equipped with cleaning supplies to be cleaned between each use. 

-Drop area for end of day materials that is at distance from employee responsible for closing out routes. 

-Staggered start times for delivery. 

-Provide safety kits for each merchandiser in the field (if you can find them), including: hand wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves (latex plus padded u-line), throat lozenges, antiseptic throat wash, spray antibacterial cleaner for vehicles, bottled water and vitamin C. 

-Sales employees should start and finish from the field to minimize the number of employees entering and exiting the building.

-On-premise team reassigned to off-premise to reduce the number of account calls for each off-premise rep. 

-Reassign all small format team accounts (convenience, package liquor, etc.) to every-other-week deliveries to minimize calls and deliveries to those accounts.

-Asking all large format accounts to take their whole week’s load in one delivery and seeking flexible delivery windows to be out of the stores completely by the time shoppers enter.

-Seek more flexible hours to merchandise when no shoppers are in the store. 

-Stagger arrival times allowing only two or three drivers in to pick up trucks at any one time.  Assign same helper to same driver every day or have helpers drive their personal vehicles and reimburse with a car allowance.

-All handheld devices and other equipment used to perform delivery duties shall remain in constant possession of the employee to which they have been assigned; no equipment is to be shared or passed back-and-forth with any customers or others. 

-Drop deliveries only; no filling shelves or coolers (more common with c-stores). 

-Suspend collection of checks from customers when legal; payment must be sent in. 

-Go to a 48-hour cycle for order taking, picking and deliveryAsk retailers (by letter) to consider closing down beer aisle when employees are merchandising (most are accommodating). If you think there are too many people in a convenience store for delivery, wait to make the delivery

-Only allow essential personnel inside facility — it minimizes the risk of transmission and reduces internal tracing required if there’s exposure. 

-Do not allow sales team and managers into facility. 

-Do not permit long haul drivers to enter the facility. Add porta-potties outside for sales team and over the road drivers. 

-Do not allow travel between facilities for multi-location distributors. 

-All non-essential operations and office staff should work remotely.

-No supplier visits or ride-alongs. 

-People seem to have a problem understanding what a 6-foot separation is – take yellow tape and put several lines down on the warehouse floor, 6-feet apart – a visual representation seems to help. 

-Post signage on all offices and other areas with reminders for social distancingOnly one driver in the driver room and/or at the cash machine at one time. 

-Reduce ability to gather; remove table and chairs from break room. 

-One member has implemented warehouse segmentation – no interaction between 1st and 2nd shifts or Team A and Team B. At the beginning of each shift their warehouse manager disinfects all equipment prior to use. 

-Inventory is only counted on particular days, by specific employees.

-Post TTB wholesaler permit FDA registration State ABC license FDA-compliant food safety plan. 

-Have a letter, on company letterhead, with each employee’s name, shift hours and FMSCA Emergency Declaration specifics issued. 

I know that’s a lot to absorb, but I hope it helps.  Thanks to Lance and his team for sharing with our readers. 

COVID-19 RESOURCE:  Check out all of our free COVID-19 – related YouTube videos with beer industry leaders here>>

(Warning:  Our videos aren’t pretty and they aren’t PG. I edit them myself — but hell they do the job). 

Have a safe and beery weekend. 

Until Monday,

Harry, Jenn and Jordan

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”

– Abraham Lincoln

———- Sell Day Calendar ———-

Today’s Sell Day: 12

Sell days this month: 22

Sell days this month last year: 22

This month ends on a: Thurs.

This month last year ended on a: Tues.

YTD sell days Over/Under:  +1