December 10, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues,

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

  • Update: province-wide restrictions extended until January 8, 2021
  • PHO reminds businesses to review and update COVID-19 safety plan
  • Join ABLE BC for Virtual Holiday Happy Hours
  • Webinar recording: What to do if you have a COVID-19 outbreak
  • Provincial throne speech highlights actions to protect individuals and businesses
  • Provincial government announces support for tourism sector recovery
  • Canada Emergency Business Account expanded
  • Applications for BC Recovery Benefit will begin December 18
  • Reminder for Temporary Layoff Variance Holders: renewal before expiry
  • Donate to the BC Hospitality Foundation this holiday season
  • Provincial state of emergency extended

Find all past COVID-19 updates here.

Update: province-wide restrictions extended until January 8, 2021

On December 7, Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the current province-wide restrictions will be extended until January 8, 2021. The restrictions were originally set to expire December 7, 2020 at midnight.

These restrictions include: 

  • All in-person events and social gatherings as defined in the PHO order – Gatherings and Events (PDF) are suspended. Exceptions are in place for weddings, funerals, baptisms, meals for people in need, and drive-in, drive-thru, and drop-off events.
  • No gatherings of any size at your residence with anyone other than your household or core bubble.
  • Patrons must wear a mask inside a restaurant, pub, and bar, when not at a table. 
  • Events are not allowed at liquor and food primaries.
  • Liquor and food primaries can continue to operate if have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and employee protocols in place. 
  • There is a maximum of 6 people at a table allowed and no moving between tables. 
  • WorkSafeBC will be conducting inspections to verify that COVID-19 Safety Plans remain effective. Establishments that are noncompliant with plan requirements may face orders and fines, and possible referral to public health which may result in a closure order.
  • Masks are required in many indoor public settings, including liquor and food primaries and liquor stores.

For more information: 

Note from ABLE BC: 

We understand that prohibiting gatherings and events over the holidays and new year poses tough financial challenges for your businesses. Please know ABLE BC is doing everything we can to support our members, and will continue to advocate on your behalf.

You may have also seen the Alberta government on Tuesday ordered the closure of all casinos and gyms, banned dine-in service at restaurants and bars, and imposed a mandatory province-wide mask requirement under new restrictions aimed at curbing the province’s soaring COVID-19 infection rates.

Despite what we see in Alberta, it is very different story for BC’s hospitality sector. Dr. Henry has been very clear, repeatedly that the hospitality sector is doing a very good job of controlling outbreaks and COVID-19 cases are not coming from our industry. 

ABLE BC is in regular discussion with the PHO and her staff and at this time we do not anticipate a lockdown for our industry.

If you have any additional questions, please contact ABLE BC: info@ablebc.ca.

PHO reminds businesses to review and update COVID safety plan

All employers in BC are required to have a safety plan that outlines the policies, guidelines and procedures they have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. During Dr. Henry’s update, on December 7, the PHO once again emphasized the need to review and update COVID-19 safety plans to reflect the latest orders and changing conditions.

What do tourism and hospitality businesses need to do?

go2HR writes: All businesses across the province must continue to follow their COVID-19 safety plans and update those plans as needed. 

Take the time to read the latest health orders and understand how they impact your particular business. 

Remember that WorkSafeBC is conducting inspections around the province to verify the effectiveness and implementation of COVID-19 safety plans. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you review and update your COVID-19 safety plan without delay.

How go2HR can help you:

Use go2HR’s compilation of key resources, housed on their Maintaining your COVID-19 Safety Plan webpage to assist you in reviewing and updating your COVID-19 safety plan.

If you have any questions regarding these orders or need support with any aspect of your safety plan, please contact go2HR via phone: 604-633-9787 or email: safety@go2hr.ca.

Join ABLE BC for Virtual Holiday Happy Hours

Join ABLE BC’s team for a virtual holiday happy hour next week:

Tuesday, December 15 at 4:00 pm PT: Publican Happy Hour

Register here. A Zoom link will be provided prior to the happy hour.

Thursday, December 17 at 4:00 pm PT: Liquor Retailer Happy Hour

Register here. A Zoom link will be provided prior to the happy hour.

We won’t be able to gather in person this holiday season, but we still want to connect with you. Grab your favourite holiday drink, set your Zoom to a warm and cozy background, and join Jeff and Danielle via Zoom for a virtual holiday happy hour.

ABLE BC’s Virtual Happy Hours are a chance for you to ask questions, share your concerns and thoughts about the current state of our industry, and connect with your industry colleagues – in an informal setting. There will not be a formal presentation by Jeff.

Everyone is welcome – ABLE BC members and non-members. If you are not a Liquor Retailer or Publican, we still encourage you to attend, though the discussion may be focused on those sectors.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact Danielle: danielle@ablebc.ca.

Webinar recording: What to do if you have a COVID-19 outbreak

Today, ABLE BC hosted a webinar with go2HR on what to do if you have a COVID-19 outbreak.

Watch the recording and download the presentation slides.

The webinar covers the following:

  • What to do if an employee tests positive for or comes into contact with someone who has COVID-19
  • What to do if a customer tests positive for COVID-19
  • Steps to follow in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak, including WorkSafeBC, public health guidelines, and general cleaning guidelines 
  • Employer responsibilities
  • Reviewing your COVID-19 safety plan 
  • Helping employees feel safe in the workplace post-outbreak
  • Sample communications and messaging to share with customers and staff

Download our updated COVID-19 Outbreak FAQ, including sample messaging and templates to share with customers and staff.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact Danielle Leroux (Director of Membership and Communications): danielle@ablebc.ca.

Provincial throne speech highlights actions to protect individuals and businesses

Monday’s speech from the throne focused on the immediate actions government is taking to protect British Columbians’ health and livelihoods from the threat of COVID-19.

The speech arrived at a time when new treatments and vaccines herald better days ahead, but the current wave of COVID-19 continues to pose urgent challenges in the short term.

First and foremost, government will help people, communities and businesses to implement whatever public-health protections are necessary to address outbreaks. 

Those supports include a new Recovery Benefit, which will be rolled out by the end of the year (details below).
Preparations are underway to ensure that when a vaccine is available, it will be distributed to all British Columbians as quickly and safely as possible, beginning with those most at risk.

Key investments in health care will allow more patients to receive treatment at home, reduce wait times, and train and hire more doctors and nurses.

Government will also take significant steps to assist small- and medium-sized businesses in weathering the economic storm caused by COVID-19. New tax measures will reward businesses for hiring, and help them grow and become more productive by making it easier for them to invest in equipment and machinery.

For more information, please read the government news release.

Provincial government announces support for tourism sector recovery

On December 8, the provincial government announced further details on how their $53 million in supports, outlined in StrongerBC: B.C.’s Economic Recovery Plan, will create jobs and spur economic development for tourism businesses:

  • $19.4 million to support tourism-dependent municipalities to build, adapt and diversify their tourism infrastructure;
  • Funds are expected to be sent to recipients in February 2021.
  • $13.6 million for all six BC tourism regions to work with government to identify projects to create jobs and attract new businesses;
  • Funds provided to regions and projects for consideration will be identified by February 2021.
  • $20 million to develop local tourism experiences, infrastructure and services;
  • Local governments, not-for-profits and First Nations are eligible for project funding to help bring back visitors to communities.
  • Funds are scheduled to be sent to recipients by March 2021.

BC’s five regional destination management organizations each will receive $2.3 million to invest in regional tourism development. Destination BC, representing the Vancouver Coast and Mountains region, will receive $2.1 million.

As part of StrongerBC, government created a tourism task force, which has brought together leaders from business, labour, First Nations and not-for-profits, to seek ideas on how to best position the industry for the 2021 season. The Province is allocating $50 million for new measures that will result from the task force’s work. Its final report is scheduled to be delivered to government before the end of 2020.

Read more about the supports for the tourism sector here.

Canada Emergency Business Account expanded

On December 4, Prime Minister Trudeau announced the expansion of the Canada Emergency Business Account to offer support to small businesses during COVID-19.

At a press conference on Friday, the Prime Minister said that eligible businesses will now be able to access a second loan under CEBA, should they need the additional support.

Originally launched in April 2020, CEBA provides interest-free loans to small businesses and non-profits to cover expenses that cannot be avoided or deferred. To date, the program has helped almost 800,000 small businesses across the country, the Prime Minister said.

Beginning on December 4, eligible small businesses will be able to access a second CEBA loan of up to $20,000, on top of the initial $40,000 loan. Of the newly announced financing, $10,000 will be forgivable if repaid by the end of 2022. Learn more.

Applications for BC Recovery Benefit will begin December 18

On December 8, the BC government introduced legislation to secure funding for approximately 3.7 million British Columbians to receive the tax-free BC Recovery Benefit. Passage of the bill will ensure British Columbians can apply for the benefit starting December 18:

  • $1,000 for families with incomes under $125,000. Families earning up to $175,000 will qualify for a reduced benefit amount. Single-parent families also qualify for these benefit amounts.
  • $500 for single people earning less than $62,500. Single people earning up to $87,500 will qualify for a reduced benefit amount.

British Columbians receiving income assistance and disability assistance will be eligible for the BC Recovery Benefit. As well, people on income assistance, disability assistance and low-income seniors receiving the senior’s supplement will receive an additional recovery benefit at $150 per month from January 2021 to March 2021. Learn more.

Reminder for Temporary Layoff Variance Holders: renewal before expiry

This summer, a ‘COVID-19 Emergency Layoff’ period was in place to extend the temporary layoff period under the Employment Standards Act to 24 weeks, expiring August 30, 2020.

Many employers requested four-month variances, which will expire near the end of December.

All variances have an expiry date. When you are within 30 days of that expiry, you will get an email from the Employment Standards Branch of BC notifying that you that, if you wish to seek a renewal to a later date, you must take action before your variance expires.

It is a simple, online process so employers and workers in non-unionized workplaces can jointly apply to the Employment Standards Branch to extend a temporary layoff period and renew a variance.

The online form, employee informed consent tool, and additional resources can be found here.

BC’s Ministry of Labour recommends that employers submit their variance applications early to avoid the potential of permanent staff layoffs and compensation for length of service to eligible workers upon the expiry of the employer’s Temporary Layoff Variance.

The Employment Standards Branch reviews the application. Employer will be notified once the variance is decided. Employers are encouraged to submit their variance application at least 5 days before expiry of their current variance and earlier if possible, for processing.

Donate to the BC Hospitality Foundation this holiday season

Take advantage of federal and provincial government tax incentives and support the BC Hospitality Foundation – our industry charity. You can receive as much as 53% back through charity tax deductions.

The BCHF is a charity that supports hospitality workers facing financial crisis due to a health condition. These are the people who work in your favourite restaurants, wineries, breweries, bars, and hotels. Often with limited access to benefits or financial aid, the beneficiaries have nowhere else to turn if a health condition arises.

Every donation to the BCHF until December 25 will receive a electronic holiday card to share with loved ones online. Donate here.

Provincial state of emergency extended

The Province of British Columbia has formally extended the provincial state of emergency, allowing health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act to support the Province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on December 22, 2020, to allow staff to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns and COVID-19 outbreaks. Read more.


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