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Deemed non-essential, Mexican breweries close down

Saturday - April 4, 2020 10:13 am , Category : WORLD
Mexico City, April 4 (IANS) Deemed as a non-essential, breweries across Mexico have decided to shut down operations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Mexico's largest domestic brewer, Grupo Modelo, and the Mexican unit of Dutch giant Heineken surprised distributors, retailers and consumers with announcements that they planned to shut down their plants on Sunday, reports Efe news.
"It's bad news for Mexicans," Mexico City beer wholesaler Felix Mendez said. "We are a nation of beer drinkers."
More than 65 million Mexicans, or half the population, drink beer, and per capita beer consumption in 2018 was 68 litres, according to the Inegi statistics agency.
Mendez said he has enough beer in stock "for the next two weeks".
The association representing Mexico's breweries has said that the industry provides some 55,000 direct jobs and more than 600,000 indirect jobs, while a report by consultants GCMA shows that the country exported nearly $4.9 billion worth of beer in 2019.
The development drew responses on social media, where messages denouncing the move circulated with the hash tag #MexicoSinCerveza (MexicoWithoutBeer).
"Spain has not closed its tobacco shops, we should not close the beer wholesalers," one person said on Twitter, while someone else offered to "exchange rolls of (toilet) paper for beers", alluding to the widespread panic buying of bathroom tissue.
The Mexican government declared a health emergency on Monday, entailing a suspension of non-essential activity until the end of April.
The decree explicitly identities production and distribution of "food and non-alcoholic beverages" as essential services, but makes no mention of alcoholic drinks.
Mexico has registered 1,688 coronavirus cases, with 60 deaths.

--IANS ksk/