March 16, 2020

Dear Members and Industry Colleagues, we know you all have questions, we do too. Things are moving fast with COVID-19, and we’re working hard to get answers for you. Until this crisis ends, you can expect daily emails from ABLE BC on how this crisis will impact your liquor or hospitality business. 

We’ll do our best to help you separate rumours from facts so you can make strategic decisions. If you have specific questions, please feel free to send them directly to our Executive Director Jeff Guignard and we’ll work to answer them as soon as possible.

Please note, ABLE BC’s team will be working remotely effective today. We’ll be working regular office hours and checking phone messages several times per day. If you have a question or concern, please contact us by email: or

Working with government: letter to BC Premier

We all know how easy it is to succumb to fear and panic, especially when so many of your businesses are facing crushing financial disruptions. In addition to getting you up-to-date information, ABLE BC is doing everything we can to ensure government understands the devastating impact this crisis is having on BC’s hospitality industry and what they can do to help. 

For example: this weekend ABLE BC joined other industry partners in writing to Premier Horgan with a few specific recommendations, including: 

  • Delay the next minimum wage increase scheduled for June 1, 2020
  • Allow businesses to defer the Employer’s Health Tax
  • Allow deferred payments on PST
  • Work with municipalities to delay any property tax increases
  • Consider extending reasonable payment terms for industry liquor purchases from the LDB

Download a copy of the letter.

New provincial health guidelines: gatherings over 50 people prohibited 

Effective March 16, the provincial government is  prohibiting all public gatherings of more than 50 people. This includes indoor and outdoor sporting events, conferences, meetings, religious gatherings, and other similar events.  Previously, they had asked event organizers to  cancel any gathering larger than 250 people . 

View the provincial health officer’s class order on mass gatherings here.

ABLE BC has spoken with the Ministry of Health and the LCRB on how the class order affects liquor licensees. Special Event Permits are included in this ban on gatherings of more than 50 people. Currently, liquor primaries and food primaries are not.

However, ABLE BC recommends that bars, pubs, and restaurants abide by provincial health guidelines and voluntarily limit your patron capacity to 50 people whenever possible.

If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us: or 604-688-5560. 

Download a sample sign you can post to notify customers.

Will there be support for small businesses? 

ABLE BC is  in touch with the provincial and federal governments about this daily. We understand some support is coming, but no further information is available yet. The federal government is expected to announce details tomorrow.

Should I close or reduce operating hours? 

While this is a case-by-case decision that will likely evolve daily, it is important to note that Canada’s Prime Minister today recommended that all Canadians stay home as much as possible. Combined with the Public Health prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people, it is likely your businesses will be impacted negatively.

We encourage members to plan staffing resources carefully and activate other ways of serving customers, including:  takeaway, delivery, and gift certificates. 

Stop accepting cash payments: 

ABLE BC recommends that establishments temporarily stop accepting cash payments

The World Health Organization recently declared that hard currency could be carrying COVID-19 and encouraged people to use contactless payments when possible. 

Download a sample sign you can post to notify customers.

Keeping your customers safe: 

Patrons want to know that you and your team are taking precautions to keep them healthy and safe. In addition to the recommendations above, here are some steps you can take:

  • Implement more frequent processes for the cleaning and disinfecting of common and customer facing areas and equipment
  • Ensure consistent and proper hand-washing by all of our employees
  • Reduce the number of gatherings, and cancel training and meetings for your staff
  • Encourage store customers lining up for service to respect one another’s personal space and practice ‘social distancing,’ the maintaining of a physical buffer of two metres from others (where possible) to slow the spread of illness
  • Cancel tastings and special events until further notice
  • Remove tables in your liquor primary to provide additional space between customers
  • Encourage takeout orders or delivery

Post signage informing customers of these changes and share on your website and social media channels. Download a sample sign.

Impact on LDB Distribution: 

ABLE BC is working with our partners at the LDB to get more information on how COVID-19 could impact the supply chain. 

While you have to make the decision that is right for your business, at this time ABLE BC has heard nothing to suggest that operators should ‘stockpile’ product. We will update members as soon as more information becomes available.

Stop accepting beverage container returns:

We recommend that retailers temporarily stop accepting returns of empty beverage containers. 

Download a sample sign you can post to notify customers.

New travel restrictions:

To slow the spread of COVID-19 in Canada, additional travel-related measures have been announced: 

  • Canada will deny entry to travellers who are not Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents (some exceptions apply)
  • Air operators have been formally mandated to prevent any travellers with symptoms to board an aircraft to Canada
  • Canadians are to avoid all non-essential travel outside Canada, including to the US. Anyone who chooses to travel outside Canada must stay away from work or school for 14 days on their return. Read the Official Global Travel Advisory.
  • Only four Canadian airports are accepting international flights – Vancouver International, Pearson International in Toronto, Calgary and Montreal

Read more travel and tourism-related updates on the Destination BC website.

2020 ID Checking Guides:

Please note, if you placed an order for 2020 Drivers License ID Checking Guides, there has been a slight delay in shipping them due to COVID-19. We expect to send them out soon. Your credit card will not be charged until the books are shipped. 

If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact Danielle:

Other Tools for your Business: 

Share useful programs and materials with your customers and staff to encourage proper hygiene and sanitation. Here are some signage examples:

 Here are some other useful materials:

For more information:

Public Health Agency of Canada Website

Updates from the Government of British Columbia

If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact ABLE BC:
604-688-5560 or

Join the fight! Become a member today.


Our Partners