The Kentucky Distillers’ Association is awaiting approval of its 30-page proposal submitted to Gov. Andy Beshear in advance of the June 8 reopening date for distilleries.
Distilleries are expected to welcome visitors with lots of COVID-19 safety precautions in place, as required by the state’s Healthy at Work guidelines.
The proposal submitted by the Kentucky Distillers’ Association has recommendations for the 18 distilleries on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and 20 on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail Craft Tour.
Association President Eric Gregory said the proposal includes the use of masks and gloves for employees, plastic barriers, disposable cups and glasses, and social distancing.
Gregory said there’s even a suggestion about the treat often given at the end of a distillery tour.
"At the end of your tasting getting a bourbon ball, those are preset by someone who is wearing a mask and gloves and we’ve even recommended putting a glass or a plastic cup over it,” said Gregory.
Distilleries will have to limit capacity to 33 percent, as required by the Healthy at Work guidelines. So while the largest distilleries may previously have had up to 50 people in a tasting room, the new requirements will limit that to 15 or 16 people.
Smaller distilleries are expected to open sooner, with most of the sites on the bourbon trails likely to be ready for visitors by June 29 when bars are allowed to re-open, said Gregory.
In addition to the best practices on health precautions from all levels of expertise within the industy, the distillers' proposal includes an additional perspective from an infectious disease specialist at the University of Kentucky.
"About how to look at your roll-back strategy, so in case your town or your area does see a spike, you need to be able to put in place procedures to roll everything back up as quickly as possible, and have a quick shut-down procedure," said Gregory. "So that was really valuable advice for us.”