August 06, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues,

Here’s what you’ll find inside today’s update:

  • COVID-19 Advocacy Work Report
  • Updated Liquor Primary Best Practices Handbook
  • BC State of Emergency extended
  • Reminder: apply for temporary layoff extensions
  • COVID-19 Tourism Impact Report
  • Employer responsibilities: employees who are travelling

Find all past COVID-19 updates here.

COVID-19 Advocacy Work Report

It has now been six months since the global COVID-19 pandemic began wreaking havoc on Canada’s economy and disrupting our way of life. We certainly don’t need to tell you that BC’s hospitality industry was hit first – and hit hardest – by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the start of the pandemic, ABLE BC has been working hard every single day to advocate for your interests, protect your businesses, and help ensure the survival of our industry. 

In the past few months alone, we’ve helped ensure that liquor retail was declared an “essential service” and secured discounted wholesale pricing for our LP members. 

Download our new COVID-19 Advocacy Work Report for more on how we’ve supported you during this crisis.

Updated Liquor Primary Best Practices Handbook

We’ve updated our Liquor Primary Best Practices Handbook to include new conditions laid out in the July 31st Provincial Health Officer public order. 

Download the updated handbook.

In case you missed our update on August 4, We received some very good news over the weekend. After a week of working with the office of the Provincial Health Officer and LCRB, Dr. Henry released a new public order for licensed establishments. This order took effect July 31 and replaces and repeals the public order released on July 23.

ABLE BC successfully secured several important changes for our industry, reflected in the new public order.

Important changes:

  • Clarity on who the order is for: the public order is for owners and operators of restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, cafeterias and food primary and liquor primary establishments, including pubs, bars, lounges and nightclubs, as well as manufacturing facilities that have tasting rooms and lounges.
  • Clarity on who the order does not apply to: the public order does not apply to events, which are not held in restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, cafeterias or licensed premises, including pubs, bars, lounges, nightclubs and tasting rooms, nor does it apply to meetings or conferences held in hotels or anywhere else.
  • Clarity around rules for manufacturer licenses: patrons do not need to remain seated in a premise with a manufacturer’s license (i.e. do not need to be seated during a tasting). Please see sections 2-6 for more details.
  • Clarity around rules for cafeterias and private clubs: patrons do not need to remain seated in a cafeteria or private club. Please see sections 2-6 for more details.
  • Dance floors must remain closed with physical barriers or occupied with tables. Patrons must not song, engage in Karaoke, or dance on the premises. The new public order also clarifies that jam and open mic sessions must not be held on premises.
  • Extended hours and more events allowed: an event may be hosted between 5:30 am and 11:00 pm on the same day. No more than four events may be hosted in one day on the same premises or in an area of the premises. There must be at least one hour between events during which there are no patrons present to permit cleaning and sanitizing. Please see pages 4-5 for more details.

Please review the full Provincial Health Officer Public Order here.

The amended public order is an example of the Provincial Health Officer and government being very responsive to our industry’s concerns. We thank government for yet again supporting our industry during this crisis.

BC State of Emergency extended

The BC government has formally extended the provincial state of emergency, allowing Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the Province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

“In recent weeks, British Columbians have been reminded that COVID-19 case counts can easily rise if we’re not careful,” said Premier John Horgan.

“As we continue our slow and safe approach to Phase 3, extending the provincial state of emergency will continue to provide government with the resources we need to respond to any new challenges. This is not the time to let our guard down.” 

The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on August 18, 2020, to allow government to continue to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns, such as recent outbreaks in some areas of the province.

For more information, please read the government news release.

Reminder: apply for temporary layoff extensions

Workers and employers who need to extend temporary layoffs beyond the August 30, 2020, expiry date are reminded to apply for a variance using the Employment Standards Branch’s new online application by August 25.

In July 2020, the Ministry of Labour launched a simplified variance application process to help businesses navigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic more easily.

Employers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. An application deadline is set for August 25, 2020, for workers and employers to jointly apply for an extension, to ensure that all applications will be processed by the August 30 expiry date.

The new two-step online application simplifies and streamlines the process for employers and workers to jointly apply for an extension by allowing documents and signatures to be submitted electronically.

First, employers must reach out to their workforce to ensure they have more than 50% support from workers before applying. Workers will receive information about the variance, including their rights under the Employment Standards Act, and will be able to voice their support using the online tool. Once worker support is documented, employers can complete the online form and submit directly to the Employment Standards Branch.

Under BC Employment Standards Act, temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 can last up to 24 weeks, or until August 30, 2020, before the layoff becomes permanent. 

Government encourages employers to submit their variance applications now to avoid permanent staff layoffs and compensation for length of service to eligible workers upon the expiry of the COVID-19 emergency layoff period August 30.

For more information please read:

COVID-19 Tourism Impact Report

The British Columbia Regional Tourism Secretariat, British Columbia Hotel Association and the British Columbia Destination Marketing Organization Association are continuing to leverage their collective business network to collect, collate and report on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism businesses and to gather feedback on potential response and recovery measures. 

View the latest COVID-19 Tourism Impact Reports here.

This business intelligence was gathered through weekly telephone and online surveys with data from over 364 different tourism businesses. 

Key issued raised in the report:

  • 24% of firms are operating with business as usual, which is lower than the 38% national average
  • 907 staff have been hired or rehired across 203 firms.
  • 51% of firms saw a decrease of at least 50% in year-over-year revenue.
  • 36% of firms were unable to pay all their June bills.
  • Remote and seasonal firms reported the largest number of staff layoffs, as well as the weakest rehiring activity since re-opening measures.

View the full report here.

Employer responsibilities: employees who are travelling

Recently, a member inquired about their obligations as an employer towards staff travelling and returning to the workplace. 

We wanted to share the response go2HR provided: 

There are no specific requirements at this time either from WorkSafeBC or the provincial health officer around employer responsibilities when their workers travel (for vacations), except if their workers have travelled outside Canada and there is a need to self-isolate when they return. This stipulation has to be a part of your COVID-19 safety plan.

Outside of this, if there are no travel restrictions for travel to places your employees are visiting, there is nothing that an employer is required to do.

As a best practice, it would be good to reiterate the general principles around remaining safe during these times, highlighting the increased exposure that comes with travel:

  • To not come to work if they are sick
  • To ensure they maintain social distance 
  • Wash hands frequently 
  • Use a mask where social distancing is not possible
  • Observe coughing etiquette
  • Outdoors is better than indoors

It would also be acceptable to have a conversation during daily briefings/staff meetings to address concerns that staff (or you) may have when others travel and to emphasize that you are all in this together and one person’s actions/choices can impact all the others. You can refer them to the BC CDC guidelines around travel

Also, if you are made aware of anything the employee has done specifically that is not recommended as per current guidelines, you can address this privately with the employee concerned. 

Please visit the go2HR website for more information related to health & safety and HR challenges and FAQs during these difficult times.

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