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Hundreds of Australian businesses have pivoted to manufacture coronavirus-related supplies in order to keep staff employed, fill nationwide shortages and protect frontline workers. 

Coronavirus continues to spread across Australia, so far infecting 4,976 individuals and causing 21 deaths. The ongoing crisis is also impacting global supply chains and financial markets — and, as of mid-March, over 60% of Australian businesses reported being negatively affected as people are forced to self isolate. 

Panic-buying has also seen individuals rush to stockpile much-needed items like hand sanitizer and face masks. 

Iconic Adelaide business Detmold, which typically provides packaging for groups like Subway, has announced it will now work to create 145 million face masks for in-need medical staff. Forty-five million masks will be allocated to workers in South Australia, with the rest shared across the country. 

An additional 160 staff will be employed within the workshop, which will begin mask production in May. 

"Detmold is a South Australian company with a long history of employing locals, so to be able to assist with both flattening the curve in this time of crisis and helping keep South Australians in work is immensely rewarding,” said Detmold Chief Executive Officer Alf Ianniello in a media release. 

Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews said Detmold was an example of “pivoting at its best.” 

In the coming days, Andrews will be in talks with country-wide clothing and textile producers to discuss how they could be utilised to produce much-needed surgical and hospital gowns. 

"We put out a request for information about maybe two weeks ago now, and there's already been over 340 businesses put their hand up, saying they're prepared to do what it takes," Andrews said, according to SBS.

Distillers nationwide have likewise halted typical production to instead focus on manufacturing alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Underground Spirits is Canberra’s most awarded spirits brand. Head distiller Toby Angstmann told the Canberra Times his team was working alongside the territory government to guarantee their sanitisers have an alcohol percentage at or above 60% and reach the most desperate health workers.

"Our sanitiser will go to health carers who need it most including GPs, doctors, nurses, theatre staff, emergency services and all health services," Angstmann said, before explaining 1,000 litres of sanitiser had already been distributed.

Carlton and United Breweries (CUB) are similarly manufacturing and supplying 30,000 litres of hand sanitiser to doctors and nurses in hospitals across Australia.

"As the nation’s biggest brewer, we have a part to play in battling this unprecedented crisis. Helping protect the people who are directly fighting the effects of this virus is a good start,” CUB CEO Peter Filipovic said in a media release. “For more than 150 years we’ve helped Australians come together over a beer. Now it’s time to lend a helping hand as they stay apart to fight the virus."

Other distilleries taking similar action include Unicorn Spirits, Prohibition Liquor, Earp Distilling, Brix Distillers, Manly Spirits, Big River, Canberra Distillery, Local Spirits, Archie Rose, Four Pillars Gin, Granddad Jack’s, Lord Byron Distillery, Hartshorn Distillery, Brisbane Distillery Company, Mr Black and SevenZeroEight.


Defeat Poverty

These Australian Companies Have Pivoted to Making Face Masks and Hand Sanitizer Amid COVID-19

By Madeleine Keck