NORTH BAY -- More than 2,000 litres of hand sanitizer are being produced a day at New Ontario Brewing Co. in North Bay to protect residents from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"When COVID got into full swing, we were sitting here thinking 'well we have the trained staff, we have the people, we have the facility," said president Mike Harrison.

The company saw the need in the community and across the province and knew it was time to adjust operations and help out in a big way.

"You know, I went to the store to buy hand sanitizer and I couldn't; my wife went to the store and she couldn't," said Harrison. "My partner Chris and I had a discussion and said we can do this here. And we did it right."

All products are made or grown right here in Ontario and produced by Ontario workers.

"It's really cool that we were able to, as a province, everybody, come together," said Harrison.

On Monday, Vic Fedeli, Nipissing MPP and the minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, announced $294,000 from the Ontario Together Fund to New Ontario Brewing Co. to help with its production of hand sanitizer.

"We've seen what happened with COVID-19 first broke out, many places across Ontario didn't have access to PPE - personal protective equipment - or the vital hand sanitizer, we found ourselves short here in Ontario," said Fedeli.

"For the most part, we're very satisfied that with companies like New Ontario Brewing Company, who are making this huge volume of hand sanitizer, that we're covered in all our fields now."

New Ontario Brewing Co. started creating hand sanitizer before the funding from the government came through.

"We didn't know if it was going to come together, we're just really glad it did," said Harrison. "We're able to do something good and we have the support of the province and we can't ask for anything else."

'Our passion is making beer'

Harrison said the company will continue to produce Pure North 75 Hand Sanitizer for as long as it's needed.

"Our passion is making beer, but making sure our community's safe, making sure that we get the products out to market, making sure everyone has access - especially medical clinics and stuff like that, that's very important to us."

Right now, the hand sanitizer is being sold across the province. Harrison said that from the very beginning New Ontario Brewing Co. has only used United States Pharmaceutical grade products.

"So for us, there's not a technical recall that can happen because we've used the right products all along," he said.

New Ontario Brewing Co. is also having a grand opening of its new location on Sept. 12 where both regular alcohol and hand sanitizer will be available.