Restaurant and pub liquor delivery gets permanent authorization in B.C.

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      If you've been relishing the luxury of having liquor included with your delivery or takeout meal as a temporary measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can look forward to more of the same.

      And, no, that doesn't mean yet another extension by the B.C. government of its March 2020 emergency authorization to help out businesses in the hospitality sector during the public health crisis.

      This time, it's for good.

      The province announced in a release today (March 12) that all liquor- and food-primary licencees in B.C. can "sell and deliver sealed, packaged liquor products alongside the purchase of a meal for off-site consumption" on a permanent basis.

      "At the beginning of the pandemic, our government took swift action to support the food and beverage sector by making many temporary changes to help keep businesses afloat in a rapidly changing environment," Mike Farnworth, the minister of public safety and solicitor general said in the bulletin. "Making this authorization permanent will provide approximately 8,000 businesses with long-term financial support and certainty, and will aid in the hospitality industry's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic."

      The 2020 temporary authorization for liquor off-sales accompanied by a meal had been extended three times during the past year. It allowed restaurants and pubs with typical liquor- and food-primary licences to deliver sealed liquor products when customers ordered food.

      The delivery person was required to have taken the provincial Serving It Right course, which instructs hospitality-industry employees about the legal responsibilities involved in selling and delivering liquor. This included verifying identities of those who ordered the food and liquor.

      Those safeguards will still be in effect.

      In June 2020, the B.C. government—in another measure designed to assist businesses negatively affected by the pandemic—allowed pubs, restaurants, and tourism operators with liquor licences to purchase liquor at government-set wholesale prices. This temporary measure was set to expire on March 31 this year but became permanent on February 23.

      "Since the beginning of the pandemic, we've had to make huge adjustments to our businesses, shifting to a takeout and delivery-focused business model to ensure we could continue to operate under the provincial health officer's guidelines," Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said in the release.

      "The temporary change initially helped us generate sales through a new revenue stream," he said, "but making it permanent will give us continued relief from the financial hardship of the pandemic as we move into recovery."