The B.C. government is continuing its efforts to keep pandemic-affected pubs and restaurants going, giving them the option of selling single-serve alcoholic beverages with take-out or delivered meals.
The measure took effect Friday, for beer, wine, cider or unmixed single drinks with the purchase of a meal. Mixed drinks and full bottles of wine or spirits were permitted earlier, in an effort to provide revenue to B.C.’s 2,000 liquor-primary and 6,000 food-primary licensed businesses.
The single-drink option “can also help limit impact associated with increased consumption, as the patron has the option of buying a single serving instead of a full bottle of wine or spirit,” the public safety ministry announced Oct. 29.
While most areas of B.C. are allowing full indoor service for pubs, bars and restaurants for people who show the B.C. vaccine card, restrictions on some northern communities are to continue until at least Nov. 19. That has closed bars and restricted restaurant liquor sales to 10 p.m. for northern communities including Quesnel, Smithers, Prince George and the Peace region, where high COVID-19 infection rates continue.
Opposition critics called on the province this week to offer similar “circuit breaker” grants to affected northern businesses, but Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon did not offer any extension for earlier programs that have expired.
“The circuit breaker grant closed June 4,” Peace River North MLA Dan Davies told the legislature Oct. 28. “The small business recovery grant closed July 2. The launch online grant ended September 30. Now the new circuit breaker measures in Northern Health are in place, and businesses are desperate. They need help now.”
Kamloops South Thompson MLA Todd Stone read a message from one of the affected business in Fort St. John, who said he is facing bankruptcy.
Businesses across northern British Columbia are hanging by a thread — not sure if they can meet payroll, not sure if they can keep their lights on — in large part because of the latest circuit breaker health measures, which apply in Northern Health,” Stone said.
The latest health order closing bars extends to Kitwanga on Highway 16 west of Smithers. Communities including Terrace, Prince Rupert and Kitimat are not affected.