April 09, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues, 

We have (almost) made it to the end of another week. With the Easter long weekend ahead of us, this will be the last update you receive from ABLE BC until Tuesday, April 14, unless something urgent arises. 

Beginning next week, we also plan to reduce our daily email updates to three updates per week (excepting of course anything urgent).

On behalf of ABLE BC’s Board of Directors and staff, we hope you and your family have a safe and happy long weekend. We encourage you to abide by Public Health recommendations not to travel and stay home.

We will be checking emails intermittently throughout the long weekend. As always, if you need to reach us you can email: jeff@ablebc.ca ordanielle@ablebc.ca

Included in today’s email you will find: 

  • Free ABLE BC webinar next week: COVID-19 and BC’s Hospitality Industry – What you need to know
  • BDL update
  • Some municipalities start to defer property tax payments
  • Further clarification on LPs selling draft beer
  • Canadian Emergency Business Account loan programs rolls out today
  • Federal government releases Canada’s coronavirus modelling projections
  • Restaurants Canada Webinar: Delivery and Takeout Best Practices During COVID-19 
  • Preparing for the long weekend: suggested health and safety precautions
  • New signage: credit card tap transaction limits temporarily increased
  • Residential customers can now apply for BC Hydro’s COVID-19 relief fund

Find all past updates from ABLE BC here.

Free ABLE BC webinar next week: COVID-19 and BC’s Hospitality Industry – What you need to know

Join ABLE BC’s Executive Director Jeff Guignard for a complimentary webinar on COVID-19 and BC’s hospitality industry: what you need to know.

The webinar takes place on Thursday, April 16 from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. Register here.

This 1-hour webinar will cover: 

  • What’s happened over the past 4 weeks
  • Current state of the liquor industry and tourism + hospitality industry at large
  • What ABLE BC is doing to help
  • Government support programs
  • Other financial support available to you. 
  • What’s next what you can expect from ABLE BC in the weeks and months ahead and what we’re advocating for to help your businesses recover

All welcome. Advance registration is required.

BDL Update

BDL continues to ship product and are working hard to get fully operational as quickly as possible in the wake of their recent cyberattack. 

Although you can order full pallets of most SKUs, BDL is currently prioritizing full or half pallets of top-selling brands from each manufacturer (i.e. Bud, Canadian, Coors, Kokanee, Lucky, MGD, etc). 

We understand not all locations can handle a full or half pallet of single SKUs. ABLE BC is in contact with BDL daily and we are working together to find practical solutions that will meet your ordering needs. 

When placing orders, we recommend contacting BDL directly so they can offer the most current information.

Municipalities start to defer property tax payments

As you know, the provincial and federal governments continue to roll out financial supports and policy changes aimed at helping Canadians and business owners during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Even though government is working round the clock to implement these programs, we share your frustration that some emergency measures are simply taking too long. We have heard very clearly from you that further delays will lead to more business closures and lost jobs.

One of the most significant issues we hear you are facing is the inability to pay rent and property taxes. 

ABLE BC, along with other industry associations, are working daily with our provincial and federal government partners to address these concerns and help government make changes to support your businesses. 

Some municipalities have already taken action on deferring property tax payments:

Port Coquitlam City Council has cancelled its plans to implement a 2020 property tax increase and extended its tax and utility payment deadlines to September 2.

Port Coquitlam says it has also joined other municipal governments in BC in requesting the provincial government to expand the property tax deferment program and standardize extended tax deadlines.

The City of Vancouver is considering a deferral for this year’s property tax payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart told reporters on Wednesday that city staff recommends a “grace period” of nearly two months. This year’s property taxes are due on July 3, 2020, but could be pushed back to September 2, 2020.The change, however, will have to be discussed and approved by city council during next Tuesday’s meeting because a by-law amendment would be needed.

In March, ABLE BC and other industry associations wrote to all municipalities, asking them to defer property tax increases and payments. We will keep you updated on this issue.

Further clarification on selling draft beer

We have received reports that some licenses are perhaps attempting to skirt the intention of recent temporary privileges granted to liquor licensees. Although we previously offered clarifications on how you may sell draft beer, it appears some confusion remains.

To be clear, according to the LCRB: “you may sell packaged beer, including draught beer in new glass vessels referred to as growlers and bombers of a size no less than one litre supplied by you.” That means you are not allowed to sell in wine or champagne bottles, take out beverage containers, two litre pop bottles, bottles with flip-tops, or any other type of container.

Read the full policy directive here.

Government has reacted quite quickly to implement emergency supports for liquor licensees, such as allowing Liquor Primaries and Food Primaries to sell alcohol with take-out and delivery meals. By contravening the spirit of these rules, licensees risk being shut down for the duration of this crisis. Your actions could also compromise the ability of other licensees to offer these services in full compliance with Public Health Orders.

We of course understand that information is moving quickly and some confusion is inevitable. Please do not hesitate to contact us directly if we can help clarify how these policies impact your business.

Note: we have received questions from members asking if you can sell wine to customers from a keg of wine (i.e. fill a 750 mL bottle for customers). Currently, you cannot but we are exploring that possibility with government and will keep you updated.

Canadian Emergency Business Account loan program rolls out today

Applications are now open for the Canadian Emergency Business Account loan program.

CEBA provides up to $40,000 in loans, of which 25% is forgivable if you pay 75% back by the end of 2022. There is no interest or principal due until January 1, 2023. These loans are provided by your bank, with funds and guarantees from the federal government. Look on your bank’s website to apply online.

Businesses are eligible if they had payroll between $50,000 and $1 million in 2019. You must have an active account at a bank, not be in arrears of more than 90 days on any of your existing debt, and have a federal tax registration.

Find a summary of all federal government economic support programs here.

Federal government releases Canada’s coronavirus modelling projections

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam and Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo released Canada’s modelling projections on Thursday, forecasting up to 700 deaths and 31,850 coronavirus cases across the country by April 16.

Longer term modelling, covering the course of the pandemic, shows 11,000 to 22,000 deaths with strong epidemic control. That number goes as high as 300,000 with no epidemic measures in place.

Canada’s COVID-19 transmission hasn’t peaked yet. It is widely acknowledged that the first wave of the pandemic may last until summer.

During his address this morning, the Prime Minister called the current physical distancing efforts the “new normal,” as it is expected to continue for months with waves of the COVID-19 pandemic forecasted following the current first breakout. And “this will be the new normal until a vaccine is developed,” said the prime minister, adding that the vaccine may take up to a year or a year and a half.

Dr. Tam said that models are imperfect, and are highly sensitive to our actions, but they do allow “us to forecast” short-term possibilities. Models are used to ready health care systems to plan.

While she acknowledged that the numbers released today may seem stark, Canada’s modelling demonstrates that the country still has an opportunity to control the epidemic and to save lives.

“We must continue to control the epidemic using tried and true public health measures, including staying home when possible, maintaining physical distancing, meticulous hand-washing, and covering our coughs,” said Tam.

Provinces have also released their own projections. BC’s Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry spoke about projections last Friday, though she did not supply any numbers.

Restaurants Canada Webinar: Delivery and Takeout Best Practices During COVID-19

Registration is now open for Restaurants Canada’s webinar Operating During COVID-19: Delivery and Takeout Best Practices taking place on Monday, April 13 from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm ET.

Delivery and takeout has become essential for Canadian food primaries and some liquor primaries remaining open and operational during the COVID-19 pandemic.

How do you do operationalize a kitchen and make the most of takeout and delivery in a COVID-19 world? What are the health and safety procedures you need to put place to ensure both employees and consumers are protected? And what are the key concerns to watch for as we navigate this challenging time?

Understanding the best practices for delivery and takeout is increasingly important in this ‘new normal’ landscape. 

This webinar will provide insights into:

  • Best practices to ensure your operations are safe for drivers, consumers, and your employees 
  • How to implement a delivery-friendly menu
  • How to seamlessly partner with third-party delivery apps for best reach

Learn more and register here.

Preparing for the long weekend: suggested health and safety precautions

We understand your establishments may be very busy on the long weekend. Here are some precautions to can take to help ensure the health and safety of your employees and customers: 

  • Limit the number of customers you have in your store at one-time to allow for social distancing (2 meters or 6 feet between people)
  • Place markers or tape on the floor to direct the flow of traffic in your store; i.e. only allow customers to only travel one-way down the aisles
  • Place markers or tape near the cash to ensure customers stand 6 feet apart when lining up
  • Install protective cashier shields
  • Enhance your premise’s sanitation plan and schedule, and ensure staff are practising proper hygiene. This includes frequent hand washing, only coughing or sneezing into an elbow, and avoiding touching one’s face.
  • Place hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% ethyl alcohol in dispensers near doors, pay stations, and other high-touch locations for customer and staff use.
  • Ensure washrooms are always well stocked with liquid soap and paper towels, and that warm running water is available.
  • Provide clean carry-out bags for purchased products; customers should not use their own containers, reusable bags, or boxes.
  • Post signs at each check-out indicating that no customer packaging is to be used or placed on check-out counters.
  • Ensure you have signage posted indicating to customers the precautions you are taking. Download all free COVID-19 signage in our online store.

New signage: credit card tap transaction limits temporarily increased

In an effort to support social distancing requirements, we understand some credit card processors are temporarily increasing the limit on credit card ‘tap’ transactions to $250.

We have created new signage for you to indicate this change to customers. Download the free sign here.

Please confirm with your credit card processor before posting this sign.

Find all free COVID-19 signage in our online store.

Residential customers can now apply for BC Hydro’s COVID-19 relief fund

BC Hydro is reminding residential customers they can apply for the COVID-19 Relief Fund starting today.

Announced on April 1, the COVID-19 Relief Fund provides bill relief for BC Hydro residential and small business customers impacted most by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible customers can apply for a one-time bill credit of three times their average monthly bill amount.

Beginning next week, small business customers forced to closed their doors due to the pandemic can apply to have electricity charges waived for up to three months.

This “payment holiday” is meant to provide relief to retail stores, restaurants, tourism, and other small businesses.

In order to be eligible for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, residential customers must be residential account holders and have had an account since March 31, 2020.

Either they or their significant other must have lost employment/income because of the following reasons:

  • A job lay-off
  • Being quarantined or sick with COVID-19
  • Taking care of a family member that is sick with COVID-19
  • Providing care for their children due to school and daycare closures
  • Being unable to earn self-employment income

They also must be eligible for Employment Insurance, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or BC’s Emergency Response Benefit for Workers and be able to provide proof of their application.

Customers who do not meet this eligibility can seek assistance via BC Hydro’s COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program and are encouraged to call 1-800-BC-HYDRO (1-800-224-9376) to discuss further options.

Learn more and apply here.

We understand some businesses are currently ineligible for the BC Hydro COVID-19 relief program if they are on the Large General Service rate. We are working with other industry associations to try and resolve this.

For more information:

Public Health Agency of Canada Website

Updates from the Government of British Columbia

Updates and Resources from ABLE BC

Human Resources & Occupational Health & Safety Info from goHR

If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact ABLE BC:
604-688-5560 or info@ablebc.ca.

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