Virag Saksena’s whisky, which he makes at 10th Street Distillery in San Jose, is sitting in barrels ready to bottle, but his hands have been tied for months due to the shelter-in-place order that prohibited nonessential manufacturers from operating starting in mid-March.
He set aside whisky making for producing hand sanitizer, but now Saksena is ready to get back to the work he loves under a revised order that will allow manufacturers like his to reopen on Friday.
“We have stuff which has been sitting around,” he said. “The only thing we could do was a little maintenance, if you find a barrel is leaking… but before COVID-19 hit, we were doing some interesting things.”
Retail and restaurants got the bulk of the attention Monday when county officials announced that retailers could offer outdoor dining and in-store shopping, but manufacturers have been the quiet titan ready to re-mobilize in the region’s economy.
The industry employs more than 172,400 workers across Santa Clara County, accounting for more than 15 percent of civilian jobs, according to the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which helped pushed for more manufacturers to be allowed to reopen in the most recent health order.