January 07, 2021

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues,

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

  • Message from ABLE BC’s Executive Director
  • Province-wide restrictions extended until February 5
  • Updated PHO public order: self-serve lottery terminals and customers paying on their way out
  • Fees capped for food delivery services
  • New changes to small business recovery grants
  • BC commits $105 million to support tourism sector
  • Update from BC Brewers Recycled Container Collection Council
  • Provincial state of emergency extended

Find all past COVID-19 updates here.

Message from ABLE BC’s Executive Director

On behalf of ABLE BC’s Board of Directors and staff, I wanted to convey our best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year. 

There’s no denying 2020 was difficult and painful, particularly for our beleaguered hospitality industry. After witnessing the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on our businesses, families, friends, as well as our society and economy at large, I’m sure we were all relieved to kick 2020 to the curb.

Though it wasn’t the best ending. I was deeply frustrated and disappointed with the surprise Public Health Order banning liquor sales past 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, which I know caused many of you significant financial harm. As you can see below, I articulated this quite bluntly in media, and also with government.

Yet even amid the insanity of 2020, I know we all saw tremendous moments of kindness, courage, and grace. I have never seen our industry and members like you work harder to fight for your businesses, your workers, and your communities. Your hope and resilience amid the ocean of challenges we’re crossing together has kept me inspired and focused every day to keep working on your behalf. 

As we settle into what is already promising to be another long year, rest assured ABLE BC is not going anywhere. We will keep on fighting for you and your businesses. We’ll keep having your back as we work to enhance government financial supports, improve liquor and cannabis policies, and help you access to the resources you need to get back on your feet.

As always, please don’t hesitate to drop me at line at jeff@ablebc.ca if you have any questions or concerns.

ABLE BC in the media

  • Global News: Business impact as province bans liquor sales on New Year’s Eve
  • CBC News: Restaurants left scrambling after BC orders early nightcap on New Year’s Eve liquor sales
  • Kelowna Now: ‘We’re extremely frustrated’: Restaurant industry reacts to sudden 8 pm rule
  • Globe and Mail: BC has alienated an industry that has until now been a co-operative ally

Province-wide restrictions extended until February 5

Today, government announced the province-wide restrictions will be extended until February 5, 2021 at midnight.

These restrictions came into effect on November 19, 2020 and include:

  • All events and social gatherings are suspended
  • No social gatherings of any size at your residence with anyone other than your household or core bubble
  • Customers must wear a mask in restaurants, pubs, and bars when not at a table and there is a maximum of 6 people at a table and no moving between tables
  • Masks are required in many indoor public settings and all retail stores, including liquor stores
  • WorkSafeBC will continue to conduct inspections to verify that COVID-19 Safety Plans remain effective

New: retail and vending markets

By order of the PHO, retail businesses are required to:

  • Establish capacity limits based on 5 square metres of unencumbered space per person
  • Post occupancy limits
  • Where practical, post directional signs to keep people moving in the same direction and not congregating
  • Review the PHO Order: Gatherings and Events

For more information, please click here.

Updated PHO public order: self-serve lottery terminals and customers paying

On December 30, the Provincial Health Officer released an updated public order for Food and Liquor Serving Premises and Retail Establishments, which sell liquor.

While the most notable change in the order was restricted liquor sales and service on December 31, we wanted to point out several other important clarifications for food and liquor primaries, liquor manufacturing facilities that have tasting rooms, and private clubs:

5) Patrons must be seated in all premises, other than cafeterias or tasting rooms with a liquor manufacturer’s license, except to use a self-serve food or non-alcoholic drink station, use a self-serve lottery ticket dispenserpay at a pay station, use washroom facilities, or when leaving the premises. 

24) Background music, including live solo and live band music, and any other background sounds, including from televisions and electronic sound producing services, must not be amplified and must be no louder than the volume of normal conversation. 

25) If background music is provided by a live performer or performers, or a disc jockey, a physical barrier must be installed between the performers or disc jockey and the patrons, which blocks the transmission of droplets produced by the performers or the disc jockey, or there must be at least a three metre separation between performers and patrons. 

For more information, please read the public order. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact ABLE BC: info@ablebc.ca.

Fees capped for food delivery services

On December 22, Ministers Mike Farnworth (Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General) and Ravi Kahlon (Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation) announced a 15% cap on food delivery fees with a 5% fee cap on additional fees like online ordering and processing fees. The secondary cap is designed to ensure that companies cannot shift their delivery costs to other fees.

To do this, the Government of BC is enacting the Emergency Program Act (EPA) which sets these limits until three months after the provincial state of emergency has been lifted. The order came into effect on December 27.

For months, ABLE BC has been working alongside industry partner such as the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association to help tackle the significant impact delivery fees have on your bottom line. We are immensely grateful to our government partners for listening to the needs of our industry, and enacting this critical cap before the New Year.

You can find further details of the announcement here.

New changes to small business recovery grants

As ongoing pandemic restrictions continue to undermine the profitability of BC’s hospitality industry, we are immensely grateful that our government partners have expanded the eligibility criteria for Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant Program.

Immediately after the grant program was announced, ABLE BC and industry partners such as TIABC, BCHA, and Restaurants Canada requested several logical and necessary changes to ensure our members would be able to access urgently needed funds. Government has clearly heard our concerns and have responded with very positive changes. 

In addition to changing the required minimum revenue drop of 50% to a drop of 30%, the new criteria also reduces the previous three-year operation requirement to 18 months. This means businesses only need to have been in operation nine months before the pandemic to apply for the grant.

Vitally important for ABLE BC’s nightclub-LP members, the new criteria specifically includes businesses closed by public health orders.

Additional adjustments include a streamlined application process and simplified criteria, and applications may now be submitted by sole proprietors.

The revised application process and eligibility criteria are now in place. Small- and medium-sized businesses are encouraged to apply online. For more information on the changes, click here.

BC commits $105 million to support tourism sector

As we shared in our last December update, the Government of British Columbia is responding to the recommendations of the Tourism Task Force by creating a dedicated relief funding stream to quickly support people and businesses in BC’s tourism sector.

Within days of receiving the final report, the Province acted on the task force’s recommendations by committing $100 million in dedicated relief funding for the tourism sector. In addition, the Province is also allocating $5 million to Indigenous Tourism BC to administer relief grant funding targeted for Indigenous businesses.

Government has simplified the application process and streamlined the criteria, making it easier for all businesses to qualify for grants, particularly those in the hard-hit tourism sector. Tourism businesses will now be eligible for up to $45,000, an increase compared to the previous maximum of $40,000, due to a boost in the additional funds now available to help the sector recover.

You can find full details here.

Update from BC Brewers Recycled Container Collection Council

In the past year, there has been some confusion regarding the parties responsible for the collection of beverage alcohol cans due to the change in deposit for non-alcoholic cans which equalized the deposit at 10 cents.

BC Brewers Recycled Container Collection Council (BRCCC) is the stewardship agency appointed by producers to manage the collection of aluminum alcoholic cans & refillable bottles.


  • BRCCC has consistently achieved a recovery rate of 90%+ for over a decade. British Columbians fully participate in this program, making the system effective, convenient and sustainable
  • BRCCC’s collection system utilizes the brewers’ distribution and retail networks, which manages the transportation of full goods and empties to maximize efficiencies and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • For over 90 years – long before any regulatory requirements – the Beer Industry has managed a deposit return system and remains the only system in the Province that refills glass bottles
  • There is no other stewardship agency as efficient, cost effective or environmentally sound as BRCCC

Bottle Return Program 

Sign up your liquor store for BDL’s bottle return program and receive a full refund on beer bottles and cans plus handling fee. ABLE BC members make an average of $2700 in annual handling commissions.

For more information and to sign-up for the program please contact Danielle: danielle@ablebc.ca.

Provincial state of emergency extended

On January 5, the Province of British Columbia formally extended the provincial state of emergency, allowing health and emergency management officials to continue to use extraordinary powers under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) to support the Province’s COVID-19 pandemic response.

The state of emergency is extended through the end of the day on January 19, 2021, to allow staff to take the necessary actions to keep British Columbians safe and manage immediate concerns and COVID-19 outbreaks.

On December 16, the Province announced enhanced enforcement measures to keep British Columbians safe and mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. 

This included strengthening COVID-19 fine-collection measures and asking provincial enforcement officers to actively support police and increase enforcement by issuing violation tickets as appropriate during their normal course of duties or when in public places.

Between August 21, 2020, and January 1, 2021, 574 violation tickets were issued, including 103 $2,300 tickets to owners or organizers contravening the PHO’s order on gatherings and events, 21 $2,300 violation tickets for contravention of the PHO Food and Liquor Serving Premises Order and 450 $230 tickets issued to individuals who refused to comply with direction from law enforcement. Read more.

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