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‘We want to help’: Guelph, Ont. distiller making free hand sanitizer during pandemic

Answering your latest questions about coronavirus: March 17
Global News’ Jeff Semple answers viewer questions regarding COVID-19 including concerns over expired hand sanitizer.

A Guelph, Ont. distillery, known for its vodka and gin, is now doing its part in fighting the spread of the novel coronavirus by making free hand sanitizer.

Dixon’s Distilled Spirits started production on the disinfectant this week out of their facility on Elmira Road with the priority to supply frontline workers, such as first responders, doctors and other healthcare workers.

READ MORE: Guelph, Waterloo Region hospitals announce visitor restrictions

“We have the ability to help out and we said why the hell not. We’re all in this together,” part-owner Chevy Patterson said over the phone on Tuesday.

“As a small business we’re very, very vulnerable with what’s coming in the next few months and things are going to get really tight, so we decided if we can do our part, the sooner we can get out of this.”

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READ MORE: Dillon’s distillery of Beamsville making hand sanitizer and disinfectant amid coronavirus pandemic

Dixon’s has reached out to local police services, the Guelph Fire Department and they have already supplied their sanitizer to four local doctors’ offices.

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“It’s 70 per cent alcohol so it’s going to kill anything that crosses its path,” Patterson said.

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It’s also a bit harsher than what people are commonly used to when it comes to household hand sanitizers.

READ MORE: Live updates: Coronavirus in Canada

“If you have a nick on your hand, you’re going to know it right away because it stings quite a bit,” Patterson explained. “We looked into an aloe that we could mix in. You can’t get aloe right now, it’s almost near impossible.”

The other issue is that Dixon’s equipment can’t produce anything that has a viscosity.

The focus is on getting the sanitizer to frontline workers who are fighting the spread of COVID-19, but Patterson said they will hopefully be supplying the general public by Thursday morning because they’re expecting a shipment of 3,000 mini bottles.

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While they are supplying it at no charge, he admits costs will soon start to become an issue for the small company as they plan on still producing their gin and vodka.

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“I’m hoping there’s gratitude at the end of the tunnel when people walk into an LCBO,” he said. “Maybe it’ll sway them to buy a bottle of Dixon’s Vodka instead of a Smirnoff because ‘hey, I remember those guys, they helped out when they could.’”

READ MORE: Guelph police see decrease in calls on St. Patrick’s Day amid COVID-19 pandemic

He’s also hoping for government assistance because they’re still paying tax on alcohol.

“We pay 80 per cent tax on a bottle of booze out of here,” Patterson said. “That same tax is going to apply even when we’re sending it out as hand sanitizer. We’re hoping the government will step up.”