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Distillers Who Helped During The Coronavirus Pandemic Now Need Help Themselves

Craft distillers say their sales have dropped dramatically due to the pandemic.
Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Distilleries are among the many businesses that are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic. They’re asking Gov. Ron DeSantis for help. 

Matt Allen is owner of Dark Door Spirits in Tampa. In March, he switched from making liquor to churning out hand sanitizer. While he’s seen a steady stream of customers, business is down.

“We had a lot of great customers, a lot of local bars and restaurants right here in the Tampa Bay area that carried our products and we were on cocktail menus,” Allen said. “But that dried up, and it's not coming back anytime soon.”

Under state law, distillers can only sell their products face to face. No online sales, no deliveries. 

Allen is a member of the , which wants a temporary change in the law.

“Due to the pandemic, sales of craft spirits have all but ended. Distillers have had to furlough employees, and some may be forced to close their doors permanently,” the group says on its website.

“Distillers face another dilemma: They seek clarification from the State on whether they can sell and ship their spirits to consumers. If allowed, many will stay open and make more sanitizer to help first responders, hospitals and businesses that will soon reopen." 

The change would require an executive order from Gov. Ron DeSantis. But so far, the governor hasn’t responded to the request. 

Copyright 2020 WUSF Public Media - WUSF 89.7

Bradley George comes to WUSF from Atlanta, where he was a reporter, host, and editor at Georgia Public Broadcasting. While in Atlanta, he reported for NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and The Takeaway. His work has been recognized by , the Georgia Associated Press, and the Atlanta Press Club. Prior to his time in Georgia, Bradley worked at public radio stations in Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina.