Coronavirus: Free beer for health-care workers runs brewery dry, causes traffic jam in Winnipeg

Winnipeggers who ended up in a long line of cars on Kenaston Boulevard during rush hour Thursday can rest assured it was for a good cause — free beer.

And even better? It was free beer being given away as a thank you to health-care workers.

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The Trans Canada Brewing Co. had hoped to keep handing out on-the-house brews to those on the front-lines of the COVID-19 pandemic until Sunday, but company spokesperson Mike Raftis says they may have underestimated just how popular free beer would turn out to be.

“We simply don’t have any more beer,” Raftis told 680 CJOB Friday morning.

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Raftis says Trans Canada ultimately gave away just over 25,000 cans of beer — roughly 10,0000 litres of suds — between 7:30 a.m. and 9 p.m.

“That’s quite a bit of beer,” Raftis concedes, adding the company had to crack open another batch to keep up with the demand.

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“We only estimated about 20,000 cans and we had to dip into some other stock that we had just to keep giving it out” he says. “The response was a lot more than we expected, which was great.”

Each health-care worker was given a free eight-pack of beer after showing a valid health-care ID, and as word got out through the day, the lineup of cars got longer, eventually stretching nearly three kilometres from the brewery at 1290 Kenaston Blvd. all the way north to Grant Avenue.

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While that meant some of Trans Canada’s regular customers who stopped by to pick up food orders spent a little longer in the brewery’s parking lot than they may have anticipated, Raftis says overall, people were understanding.

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And the response from health-care workers was worth it, he adds.

“It was overwhelming,” he said.

Read more: ‘Ridiculous amounts’ of beer dumped amid forced bar closures: Winnipeg brewers

“It was everything from ‘this is the best day of my life’ to some folks who were in tears because they just got off a long shift and they’re already kind of at the brink and very tired.”

“We were completely taken aback and overwhelmed by this.”

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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