As of today, both Travis and Williamson counties have implemented “Stay home – Work Safe” orders in effect until Monday, April 13. Under the order, restaurants are considered essential businesses and can continue to provide food for pick up or delivery, including food trucks. Liquor stores and grocery stores also will remain open, all while maintaining social distancing.
The City of Austin order Section 6.f.ii outlines details for food manufacturers and liquor stores:
Stores that sell Groceries and Certain Other Essential Supplies. Grocery stores, supermarkets, big-box stores, farmers’ markets, food banks, convenience stores, liquor stores and other establishments engaged in the retail sale of canned food, dry goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, pet supplies, fresh meats, fish, and poultry, and any other household consumer products (such as cleaning and personal care products). This includes stores that sell groceries and also sell other non-grocery products, and products necessary to maintaining the safety, sanitation, and essential operation of residences.
And section 6.f.xii outlines restaurants and other facilities can continue carry out and delivery service: Restaurants for Consumption Off-Premises. Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or carry out.
The Williamson County order contains similar language to the above (section 10.g.2 and section 10.g.21)
So, where does this leave your local breweries?
Currently, all local breweries can continue to sell their beer-to-go for pick-up, with several offering online ordering. According to Caroline Wallace, Deputy Director of the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, “Beverage Producers are defined as Essential by Department of Homeland Security, with the full supply chain falling under the Food & Agriculture category. As Shelter in Place orders have gone into effect across the country, and the state of Texas, breweries are continuing production and continuing to engage in distribution, as well as more limited on-site sales via takeaway, curbside, or drive-thru, while abiding by their federal, state, and local health and safety and social distancing guidelines.”
While breweries can continue to-go orders, the mass closures have already had a negative impact. “The economic crisis brought on by COVID-19 presents the biggest challenge to small brewers all across the country since Prohibition. The economic impact on breweries and their workers has already been devastating,” states Wallace.
In response to the ongoing crisis, the Guild has organized a petition to allow breweries to deliver beer to consumers, among other relief efforts.