At a time when B.C. food and beverage establishments are facing numerous economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and provincial health restrictions, both the City of Vancouver and the B.C. government have granted extensions for measures that can help locations attract customers while operating safely.
On September 16, Vancouver city council heard from 11 speakers about extending pop-up patios throughout the autumn and winter, and making them an annual summer feature. Council unanimously approved this motion by Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung.
In response to the economic impact of the lockdown measures earlier in the pandemic, city council had approved a temporary patio program that began on June 1. Permits for craft brewery patios were issued for the first time, and nine pop-up patios were created around the city.
The extension will include electric and propane heat sources and roof shelters, awnings, or tents being allowed for temperature and weather reasons.
City staff will look into covering options for pop-up plazas, and the creation and expansion of more pop-up patios.
B.C. patios and liquor delivery
Meanwhile, the B.C. government announced today (September 18) that it will allow food and beverages establishments to continue to maintain expanded service areas, including patios.
The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) began permitting food-primary, liquor-primary, and manufacturer licensees (including wineries, breweries, and distilleries) to apply for a Temporary Expanded Service Area (TESA) authorization in May. As of September 11, 1,073 authorizations were approved in B.C.
Although these authorizations were scheduled to expire on October 31, the provincial government has extended the expiry date by one year to October 31, 2021. The LCRB is contacting local governments to confirm support for these extensions prior to extensions being granted, and licensees must continue to follow local bylaws.
New TESA authorization applications are being accepted until October 31 of this year, and local governments also must approve these authorizations.
In addition, the province is also extending the sale and delivery of sealed liquor products along with meals (for consuming offsite) from food-and-liquor-primary licensees, which was also slated to expire on October 31.
The B.C. government has extended this authorization until March 31, 2021.
According to data from the B.C. Agriculture Ministry released on September 16, the B.C. food processing industry reported a record $10.5 billion in sales in 2019, which Agriculture Minister Lana Popham stated is a foundation for economic recovery in the province.
Many restaurants and bars faced potential drops in revenue when B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry made amendments to provincial health orders on September 8 that stipulated that alcohol cannot be served past 10 p.m. Establishments that serve meals are permitted to remain open until 11 p.m.
Henry confirmed on September 17 that she had received a letter from the B.C. Alliance of Beverage Licensees requesting liquor service hours to be extended, during hours when liquor sales are highest, but Henry said she would not be doing so.
She had also ordered all nightclubs to close, due to the large number of transmissions taking place in these environments.
Over the past few months, numerous restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues have either been listed as sites of potential COVID-19 exposure incidents or establishments have voluntarily closed temporarily for cleaning before reopening after individuals on the premises tested positive.