June 20, 2021

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues, 

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

  • BC enters Stage Two of Restart Plan
  • Updated public order: Food and Liquor Serving Premises
  • Updated public order: Gatherings and Events
  • Webinar Recording Available: What does BC’s no-fault auto regime mean for liquor liability?
  • Join ABLE BC at our Monthly Q&A: June 24
  • Employer reimbursement program launches for COVID-19 paid sick leave
  • Learn about WorkSafeBC’s Preliminary 2022 Rates
  • ABLE BC in the media: labour shortages
  • Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant: Deadline Extended
  • Extension to Temporary Expanded Service Areas Authorization: June 1, 2022
  • Update from LCRB: TESA and capacity
  • Home delivery allowed for non-medical cannabis products: effective July 15

Find all past updates from ABLE BC here.

As always, if you have any additional questions or need to reach us you can email: jeff@ablebc.ca or danielle@ablebc.ca.

BC enters Stage Two of Restart Plan

BC entered Step 2 of the Restart Plan on June 15. Moving from Step 1 to Step 2 includes:

  • Outdoor personal gatherings up to 50 people and indoor personal gatherings up to 5 people or 1 other household
  • Indoor seated organized gatherings and outdoor seated organized gatherings up to 50 people with a COVID-19 Safety Plan
  • Recreational travel within British Columbia
  • Indoor and outdoor dining for groups up to 6 people
  • Liquor served until midnight
  • Banquet halls can operate with limited capacity and COVID-19 Safety Plan
  • Small in-person meetings at offices and workplaces
  • Employers must continue to have COVID-19 Safety Plan and daily health checks in place

Physical distancing and masks continue to be required in public indoor settings.

The earliest target start date for Step 3 is July 1, and September 7 for Step 4. View the updated BC Restart Plan four-step graphic here. View the full Restart Plan here

As BC moves into Step 2 of the Restart Plan, the public orders for Food and Liquor Serving Premises and Gatherings and Events have been updated.

More details are provided below.

Updated Public Order: Food and Liquor Serving Premises

Download the public order for Food and Liquor Serving Premises (updated on June 15) here.

Key changes to the order:

  • Patrons must remain seated but can stand to play pool, billiards, snooker, or darts, or bowl with a maximum of five other people who are in the same party
  • Collection of personal information is no longer required
  • Amplified music is now allowed (i.e., music can be louder than background level)
  • Liquor sales are allowed until midnight
  • Unless full meal service is provided, premises which are licensed to serve liquor must close between 1:00 am and 9:00 am and all patrons must vacate the premises. If a full meal service is provided, premises may stay open, but liquor service must not resume until 9:00 am the following day.
  • Liquor cannot be consumed on the premises after 1:00 am
  • The Gatherings and Events Order applies to events held on your premises. The previous conditions (listed under section 33 of the previous Food and Liquor Serving Premises public order; i.e., marketing and promoting events, wearing costumes) no longer apply. You must not promote, engage in, or permit an event that is prohibited under the Gatherings and Events Order.
  • Reminder: physical distancing and masks continue to be required in public indoor settings. Customers must wear a mask when not at their table.
  • For full conditions, please read the public order.

Clarifications: we have confirmed with the PHO bar service and buffets are still not allowed. We expect this to change in Step 3 (July 1).

Nightclubs Update: Casinos and nightclubs will be allowed to operate with limited capacity in step 3 of the Restart Plan (July 1 start date). ABLE BC and representatives from BarWatch have met with the PHO to discuss protocols for nightclubs reopening. We’re working on this with the PHO now and will have more details soon.

Updated Public Order: Gatherings and Events

Download the public order for Gatherings and Events (updated on June 15) here. Events in food and liquor serving premises are regulated under this order.

Key changes to the order: 

  • 50 people can attend inside, seated events and follow other COVID-19 safety rules, but no singing, dancing, or karaoke
  • 50 people can attend inside, seated event at banquet halls, and in addition to the rule for other inside events, there is no self-serve food or liquor allowed
  • 50 people can attend outside gatherings
  • No person may sell or serve liquor at an event after midnight. An event at which liquor is consumed must end by 1:00 am and all participants must vacate the place at which the event is held.
  • For full conditions, please read the public order.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact ABLE BC: 

Webinar Recording Available: What does BC’s no-fault auto regime mean for liquor liability?

On June 16, ABLE BC hosted a webinar with Lorne Folick (Dolden Wallace Folick LLP): What does BC’s no-fault auto regime mean for liquor liability?

Watch the recording here. Download the PowerPoint slides here.

BC’s new no-fault auto regime creates a “disincentive” for a patron to sue you. Does that mean insurance should be cheaper and easier to get? During this 45 minute webinar, Lorne Folick discusses the impact of of the no-fault auto regime on your liquor business.

To learn more about the application of BC’s no-fault auto regime to commercial liquor licensees, download this article by Lorne Folick and Ouran Li.

Join ABLE BC at our Monthly Q&A: June 24

ABLE BC members and industry colleagues are invited to join us at our next monthly Q&A with Executive Director Jeff Guignard: Thursday, June 24 at 10:00 am PT. 

RSVP here. A Zoom link will be provided once you RSVP.

What to expect during this one-hour meeting: 

  • Catch up on anything you’ve missed over the last month
  • Hear directly from our Executive Director about the state of BC’s liquor industry
  • Get an update on our advocacy work and progress
  • Ask questions about liquor policy, regulations, public health orders, and government relations
  • We’ll also be joined by members of ABLE BC’s Board of Directors 

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

Employer reimbursement program launches for COVID-19 paid sick leave

Starting Thursday, June 17, 2021, employers can apply for reimbursement of wages paid to workers who have taken sick leave related to COVID-19.

The temporary reimbursement program is retroactive to May 20, when legislation was passed, to ensure sick workers can stay home for up to three days without losing wages, while supporting businesses during the pandemic.

The amendments to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) require employers to pay sick workers their regular wages. Employers can then apply for reimbursement up to $200 per day, to a maximum of three days per worker. Any employer whose workers are covered under the ESA but does not currently provide paid sick leave benefits to its employees will be eligible.

The reimbursement program is available to employers where workers need to stay home because they:

  • Have been diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Are waiting for COVID-19 test results
  • Need to self-isolate or self-monitor in accordance with a public health order or guideline
  • Have been directed to stay home by their employer due to exposure risks

WorkSafeBC is administering the program with funding from government. The will be available to employers until December 31, 2021. The program is not part of the workers’ compensation system and will not affect WorkSafeBC’s employer premiums or its accident fund. 

To apply for reimbursement, employers must be registered for WorkSafeBC compensation coverage and signed up for WorkSafeBC’s online services. Employers will be required to complete a short online form that collects information about their employees’ COVID-19 related sick leave. Once submitted, processing of the application and payment by electronic transfer can take up to 10 business days.

Government has also committed to establishing a permanent paid sick leave program, beginning January 1, 2022. A comprehensive consultation with stakeholders and the public will be announced shortly.

Learn about WorkSafeBC’s Preliminary 2022 Rates

You are invited to attend WorkSafeBC’s virtual rate consultation sessions. During these sessions, they will provide an overview of the preliminary rates for 2022, inform employers about rate and classification changes, and outline what employers can do to influence their rates. 

WorkSafeBC will email the session link to everyone who has registered for a session, in advance of the scheduled date. The sessions include a 60-minute presentation, followed by a live Question and Answer period.

Dates and times (PST):

  • Monday, July 19, 10:00-11:30 am
  • Monday, July 19, 1:00-2:30 pm
  • Wednesday, July 21, 10:00-11:30 am
  • Wednesday, July 21, 1:00-2:30 pm

The presentation topics include: 

  • The financial state of the workers’ compensation system  
  • Rate and classification changes
  • How you, as an employer, can influence your rates through improved health and safety

 To register for the session of your choice, visit 
www.worksafebc.com/rates and fill in the registration form. You’re welcome to participate in any one of the virtual sessions. Participation is free. 

For more information:

Please email rates@worksafebc.com if you have questions about the upcoming sessions. 

Visit www.worksafebc.com/rates for additional related information, including WorkSafeBC’s 2020 Annual Report, and workplace health and safety resources.

ABLE BC in the media: labour shortages

ABLE BC’s Executive Director Jeff Guignard recently spoke to Global News about concerns around staff shortages, preventing some hospitality businesses from fully reopening. Watch the interview here.

While the province’s reopening plan is going to save a lot of businesses that were on the brink of having to close, getting staff is proving to be a big challenge.

ABLE BC knows this is a serious issue hindering our industry’s ability to recover. We’re working with industry partners and will be engaging with government on this issue.

Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant: Deadline Extended

Earlier this month, government extended the deadline for the Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant to July 2, 2021.

Grants of $10,000 to $30,000 are still available to small and medium sized B.C. businesses impacted by COVID-19. An additional $5,000 to $15,000 grant is available to eligible tourism-related businesses. 

Businesses apply for funding online. Learn more and apply here.

Extension to Temporary Expanded Service Areas Authorization: June 1, 2022

More than 2,000 temporary patios authorized to serve liquor during the COVID-19 pandemic can apply to become permanent under amended provincial liquor regulations.

This includes prospective patios that are supported by local governments and meet local bylaws.

Temporary expanded service areas (TESAs) have allowed thousands of restaurants and pubs to serve more patrons while complying with health orders, particularly those related to physical distancing and indoor dining.

To ensure existing and prospective TESAs can operate without interruption as they transition toward becoming a permanent part of BC’s hospitality landscape, the Province is:

  • Extending the authorization of existing TESAs for an additional seven months, through to June 1, 2022
  • Continuing to accept applications for new TESAs up to October 31, 2021

The changes will give businesses time to apply to make their current TESA authorizations permanent and prevent the risk of disrupting TESA use during the application process. 

Local governments and Indigenous Nations will have until July 30, 2021, to raise concerns about existing TESA authorizations in their jurisdiction before those temporary authorizations are extended by six months by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB). To all licensees with current TESA authorizations and whose local governments have not raised concerns, LCRB will issue authorization letters extending the expiry date of their temporary authorization to June 1, 2022.

Extended TESA authorizations must remain in compliance with local bylaws and all other requirements. Without a new authorization letter, existing TESAs will expire October 31, 2021.

For more information:

Update from LCRB: TESA and capacity

The LCRB has shared with us the following clarifications around capacity related to Temporary Expanded Service Areas (TESA), as capacity restrictions may be eased by the Provincial Health Officer:

  • Although the PHO has not yet made a decision about when capacity restrictions will be eased, if this does happen in Step 3 of the Restart Plan, the LCRB would like to remind licensees that TESA authorizations permit expanded service areas only and do not authorize increased overall occupancy. Licensees are not permitted to increase or exceed their currently approved person/patron capacities or occupant loads under these authorizations.
  • As always, licensees must know the capacity of their establishment and will make sure to stay within this limit to prevent overcrowding.
  • Permanent changes to capacity require an amendment to the liquor licence. Licensees who want to increase their establishment capacity should apply for a permanent structural change.
  • Licensees who’d like to make their current TESA permanent should apply for a new outdoor patio permanent structural change (if their TESA is located outdoors) or a new interior service area permanent structural change (if their TESA is located indoors).
  • Licensees applying for a permanent increase to the size of their service area may also apply for an increased capacity. However, licensees’ capacity cannot exceed the ‘occupant load’ determined by local authorities and may still be limited due to the need to comply with Provincial Health Officer orders.
  • Although the LCRB has amended its policies and processes to help improve application timelines, we encourage licensees to submit their permanent structural change applications as soon as possible to help avoid disruptions in business.
  • As support for some patios was only an interim measure intended to help businesses weather the pandemic, local governments and Indigenous Nations will need to evaluate structures and outdoor licensed areas in terms of their community’s unique requirements and approach to outdoor dining before those temporary authorizations are made permanent by the LCRB.

For more information:

Home delivery allowed for non-medical cannabis products: effective July 15

Licensed cannabis retailers will be able to deliver non-medical cannabis products directly to consumers starting July 15, 2021.

This change builds on the August 2020 move allowing cannabis retail stores (CRS) to sell their products online, providing more economic opportunities for retailers. 

In response to industry feedback and as a result of experience gained with respect to security verification since legalization in 2018, BC is also removing security verification requirements for cannabis workers. This will eliminate delays in hiring, benefiting business owners. It also enables legal retailers to hire staff more quickly to implement delivery and will reduce costs for industry and government.

Since 2018, government has completed security screening on more than 7,000 prospective cannabis workers and has not identified any significant risk of links to organized crime. Prospective CRS licensees and their associates will remain subject to rigorous security screening when applying for a licence. As well, licensees face possible enforcement action and penalties if their staff contravene cannabis control laws and regulations or licensing terms and conditions.

Only adults will be allowed to receive delivery orders, and anyone who appears to be under 19 will have to present two pieces of identification. The recipient will not have to be a resident at the address or the person who placed the order. However, they will have to provide their name and signature to take delivery.

For more information, please click here.

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