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Labatt switching production to hand sanitizer to help fight COVID-19

The Labatt brewery is seen in Toronto Thursday, March 31, 2005.
The Labatt brewery is seen in Toronto Thursday, March 31, 2005. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Aaron Harris

Labatt Breweries of Canada is shifting production from beer to hand sanitizer at some of its factories in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said Sunday it will initially produce 50,000 bottles of hand sanitizer, at five locations across the country, that will be donated to Food Banks Canada, frontline workers and restaurants and bars that are remaining open.

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“This is a national crisis like we haven’t seen in our lifetimes and we feel an obligation to do everything we can to help through our Disaster Relief Program,” Charlie Angelakos, the vice-president of legal and corporate affairs at Labatt Canada, said in a news release.

READ MORE: Canada opens door to some unregulated sanitizer, health products to fight coronavirus

The hand sanitizer will be produced at Labatt facilities in London, Ont., Edmonton, Alta., and Montreal, Que., as well as at Goodridge & Williams in Vancouver, B.C., and Mill Street Beer Hall in Toronto, Ont. The production will be in line with hand sanitizer guidelines established by the World Health Organization, according to the company.

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Hand sanitizer donations will be determined on a local basis in the communities where the participating Labatt facilities are.

Some independent distilleries across Canada, including in Ontario, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta, have also made the move to begin making hand sanitizer amid the crisis.

Click to play video 'That’s the spirit! Some distilleries pivot to produce disinfectant, hand sanitizer' That’s the spirit! Some distilleries pivot to produce disinfectant, hand sanitizer
That’s the spirit! Some distilleries pivot to produce disinfectant, hand sanitizer – Mar 19, 2020

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

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Labatt’s Disaster Relief Program first launched in 2012. Previously, the program has been used to produce cans of water for areas facing disaster, such as during the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires and floods in New Brunswick in 2018.

This will be the first time the program has been used for something other than canning and distributing water.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.