The taxman has made it easier to get an alcohol licence to produce hand sanitiser amid shortages caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Until now, the licence needed to make hand sanitisers has taken up to 45 working days to process. HM Revenue & Customs has announced that it will be fast-tracked to only take up to five working days as part of the government’s response to coronavirus-related shortages.

Craft distilleries and the Brewdog brewery have already started using their equipment to produce hand sanitisers. Brewdog founder James Watt said the company was manufacturing so-called “Punk Sanitiser” and added: “We want to do all we can to help everyone get through this difficult time.”

The company said it will be giving the hand sanitiser away for free rather than selling it.

Meanwhile, Scottish whisky maker Deeside Distillery has also started turning surplus spirit into hand sanitiser. The distillery said: “We have been completely overwhelmed by the number of organisations that have contacted us regarding shortages of hand sanitiser. 

“We are doing what we can to ensure that the frontline and primary care providers have stocks, including nurseries, schools, care homes and medical centres.”

It comes after French luxury group LVMH last week switched its perfume cosmetics factories to producing hand sanitiser for hospitals. The factories normally produce perfume and makeup for luxury brands such as Christian Dior and Givenchy.

Existing manufacturers will also be able to boost production of hand sanitiser, as checks for them will be prioritised.

A spokesman for HMRC said: “We are providing manufacturers with the potential to produce the extra hand sanitiser gel needed during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We hope that this will provide manufacturers with the support they need to meet the sudden increase in demand for their products.”

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