No bueno: Corona beer production temporarily stops in Mexico

Mexico’s Grupo Modelo will temporarily suspend operations on brewing Corona beer and other brands exported to 180 countries on Sunday. This decision comes on the heels of the Mexican government declaring its business as “non-essential” in the fight against the coronavirus.

The company planned for this and was already in the process of slowing production in case the government decided to make that determination. The Mexican government declared a national health emergency as the cases of the coronavirus begins to add up. By Thursday, 1,510 cases and 50 deaths had been reported.

Grupo Modelo’s parent company is Anheuser-Busch InBev and operates eleven breweries in Mexico. The company is moving forward with plans to be able to resume operations as soon as the suspension ends. Only key businesses related to agriculture or food production can operate for the time being.

“If the federal government considers it appropriate to issue some clarification confirming beer as an agro-industrial product, at Grupo Modelo we are ready to execute a plan with more than 75% of our staff working from home and at the same time guaranteeing the supply of beer,” the statement said.

A tweet with the company’s statement translates into “Grupo Modelo abides by measures issued by the Federal Government to deal with SARS-CoV2.”

Grupo Modelo has donated 300,000 bottles of hand sanitizer so far. Further announcements of other actions by Grupo Modelo will be forthcoming. The realization that everyone must be “fighting this fight” has sunk in.

In order to prevent the spread and spread of the COVID-19 virus, Grupo Modelo began delivering 300,000 bottles of 300-milliliter alcohol-gel to be distributed in Family Medical Units and Hospitals, through the Representative Offices of the Mexican Institute of Social Security (IMSS) throughout the country.

The reception of the first shipment with 18,720 bottles of antibacterial gel was led by the Sanitary Manager at the IMSS Central Warehouse, Química Elsa Austria Mireles, and the Grupo Modelo Legal and Corporate Affairs Vice President, Raúl Escalante.

As with other economies throughout the world, this suspension of production will come with economic and personal costs — 15,000 families and 800,000 grocers rely on beer production and beer sales for at least some of their income. That is why the company is doing all it can to be able to bring production back online as soon as possible. Grupo Modelo also produces Pacifica and Modelo beer.

Mexico is slow to play catch-up with other countries in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Last week the country’s government ordered schools and most government offices closed. On Tuesday all “non-essential” activities and businesses were ordered to shut down, as well as prohibiting gatherings of more than 100 people. The problem with that is that the order, which stays in effect until the end of April, is mostly voluntary and there are no enforcement mechanisms or penalties in place. And 100 people is too big of a group.

As this piece in The Federalist points out, all this now is likely too little, too late. Mexican officials ignored warnings about the spread of the coronavirus and its consequences.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador repeatedly dismissed the need for caution, urging Mexicans to go shopping and eat out. He even took his own advice, staging large campaign-style rallies, kissing babies, embracing supporters, and saying things like, “You have to hug, nothing is going to happen.”

Well, now something is happening. On Monday, Mexico declared a state of emergency as the number of confirmed cases exceeded 1,000, with at least 28 deaths and counting. The number of actual cases is no doubt far higher (by Tuesday, the total was more than 1,200) but because Mexico has not scaled up testing like other countries have, and appears to have little capacity to do so, we don’t really know the extent of the outbreak. Experts estimate only about 10,000 people have been tested so far nationwide—one of the lowest testing rates in the world.

As happens elsewhere, the wealthier residents of Mexico can stay home and shelter in place easier than those who depend on daily wages to survive. If government guidelines or orders are only assumed to be voluntary measures, why would those who must work every day to survive now stop doing so?

Government officials have been pleading with the public to stay indoors, with mixed results. In Mexico City, a metropolis of some 20 million people, the shutdown is being observed inconsistently. Wealthier neighborhoods, whose residents can afford to stay home, have gone mostly quiet in recent days, while poorer neighborhoods and markets largely have carried on with business as usual.

President López Obrador spent weeks denying the effects of the pandemic, going so far as to declare it is “not going to do anything to us.” Mexico has a population of 130 million people. It is ill-equipped to battle a widespread pandemic.

Limited commerce and traffic continue across the U.S.- Mexican border. Though President Trump imposed a partial closure of the border on March 17 on all non-essential travel, we all know the border remains porous. Travel restrictions help but have not stopped crossings. Last month more than 30,000 people were apprehended by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Air travel continues between the United States and Mexico and locations like Cabo San Lucas remain popular. Just look at the story about the 70 UT idiot students and their idiot parents who provided transportation and financed the spring break trip for them. Now they are 28 quarantined in Austin and who knows how many people now have the coronavirus thanks to their selfish behavior? That happened less than two weeks ago.

So, now we wait and watch as the coronavirus spreads throughout Mexico. Let’s hope the Mexican government gets serious and does what needs to be done, albeit belatedly.

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