Coronavirus
Consumers stock up in Nuevo León. Consumers stock up in Nuevo León.

Halting beer production, alcohol sales triggers panic buying

Governor of Nuevo León concerned over alcohol-fueled conflicts among people confined to their homes

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An announcement that beer production and all alcohol sales will be suspended in Nuevo León beginning on Friday shocked consumers, sending many to head to liquor vendors to stock up.

Governor Jaime Rodríguez Calderón announced at a Covid-19 update press conference on Thursday morning that brewing beer is not considered an essential activity as defined by the federal government’s Covid-19 emergency declaration, calling the decision to halt production “logical.”

“I came to an agreement with the mayors that if there is not going to be distribution, there shouldn’t be sales, period. If alcohol is sold and people are cooped up at home, we’re going to generate conflicts, problems and fights,” he said.

The governor initially said he wanted to enact a statewide prohibition on alcohol, but made sure to clarify before the end of the press conference that that was not what his administration is doing.

“We’re not [initiating a prohibition]. I said the beermakers won’t work, and if there’s no distribution there should be no sales,” he said.

But talk of prohibition appeared to outweigh his call to refrain from panic buying alcoholic beverages, and people rushed to the stores to grab what they could.

Fears of possible prohibitions also sparked panic buying in Tampico, Ciudad Madero and Altamira, Tamaulipas, on Tuesday.

In Mexico City, Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum was forced to make clear on Twitter that “No one has declared a prohibition,” after images of signs in stores saying sales would be stopped until April 30 began to make rounds on social media.

“I’m asking stores not to close or put conditions on the sale of alcoholic beverages,” she said. “If a borough decides to do it, we will make announcements.”

Other states enacting either halts in production or limitations on sales include Tabasco, Yucatán, Sonora, Quintana Roo, Campeche and Aguascalientes.

Beer distributor Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma suspended production at its plant in Coahuila, and the Heineken Group stopped producing all of the brands it brews and bottles in Mexico, including Tecate, Indio, XX, Carta Blanca, Affligem, Sol, Miller Lite, Lagunitas, Coors Light and Heineken.

The suspension of nonessential activities is a strategy of the federal government to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. As of Thursday there were 1,378 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Mexico and it had claimed 37 lives.

Sources: Milenio (sp), El Financiero (sp)

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