As many American workers seek to heed the advice of most federal, state and local governing bodies by staying home from work in order to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus or to protect their own safety, industry naturally wants to carry on.
Food and drink sits at a paradoxical intersection in this global pandemic, begging questions about what is essential and what is safe.
Representing many of the nation’s largest coffee businesses, the National Coffee Association yesterday made its voice heard, joining 57 other major national food and beverage industry associations in an appeal to the federal government for clarifications and exemptions.
“Even as we take steps to limit public gatherings, healthy workers must be allowed to continue making and delivering the essential products like coffee that Americans expect to find on store shelves during these challenging times,” NCA President Bill Murray said in an announcement from the group.
Specifically, the food industry groups are calling for federal exemptions to bans on gatherings and curfews for food and/or beverage production facilities.
“Some states have clearly exempted food, beverage, and consumer packaged goods manufacturing facilities (e.g., those manufacturing cleaning supplies, paper goods, personal care products, etc.), while others have not,” the groups wrote in a letter released yesterday. “This lack of uniformity is leading to significant confusion and could further deteriorate if a level of consistency across states and municipalities is not achieved quickly.”
The groups also invoked a national emergency declaration from the U.S. Department of Transportation last week that waives a number of regulatory limitations related to the provision of equipment, supplies and services. Included in those waivers is “food for emergency restocking of stores.”
Regarding food and beverage production facilities, the groups stated, “Employees working at these facilities should be clearly exempted and encouraged to continue to work while healthy.”
The NCA has created a resource center for coffee businesses and individuals in search of COVID-19-related safety information.