March 19, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues, 

The COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve rapidly and we’re working hard to get answers for you.

Included in today’s update:

  • Update: BC government orders all liquor primaries to close
  • Update: BC Liquor Stores not closing but reducing hours and limiting number of customers
  • Update: what ABLE BC is doing to help
  • Federal government $82 billion aid package
  • Other financial support available to businesses
  • New checklist and templates for closing your operation
  • Tomorrow: Webinar for Foodservice Operators Navigating COVID-19
  • Notice from BC Hospitality Foundation
  • New go2hR resources: HR and Employee Support
  • BC Chamber of Commerce: COVID-19 Business Impact Survey Results

Please continue to send your questions by email to ABLE BC: or

Update: British Columbia Government Orders all Bars to Close

On March 17, government announced that all bars and pubs were ordered to close. This was confirmed in a press release on March 18 ordering all liquor primaries in the province to close.

We share in your frustrations with the wrongful assumption that all liquor primaries cannot meet the social distancing requirement (i.e. keeping customers 1-2 metres apart). 

Over the past two days, ABLE BC has been working with government to allow any liquor primaries that can meet the social distancing requirement and cap capacity at 50 patrons to reopen.

We’re making progress, but nothing has changed yet. Government understands our position and is working with us, but we’re waiting for Public Health to make the final call. We’re optimistic that this will be resolved in 1-2 days and will let you know as soon as we have any information.

Update: BC Liquor Stores Remain Open

There are currently no plans to close BC Liquor Stores; however stores are shortening hours to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and are taking additional health and safety precautions (see below). 

Also as part of the ongoing response to COVID-19, all stores will be practicing social distancing of at least one metre, effective immediately. In order to ensure those rules are followed, the province will be limiting the number of people in government liquor stores. Restrictions will be based on the size of the store, and each site’s fire plan.

Read the news update here.

The LDB has also confirmed that the Delta and Kamloops Distribution Centres are at this time fully functional and are not experiencing supply chain impacts.

Health and Safety Precautions for your Private Liquor Store

  • Limit the number of customers within the store to allow for social distancing (the maintaining of a physical buffer of minimum 1 metre to slow the spread of illness)
  • Ask customers lining up for service to respect one another’s personal space and practice social distancing
  • 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 employees
  • Reduce the number of gatherings, and cancel training and meetings for your staff
  • If customers are feeling unwell, ask them to not enter the store. Feeling unwell includes, but is not limited to, respiratory issues (cough, running nose, fever, shortness of breath).
  • If customers have recently travelled outside of Canada, ask them to postpone their visit until after 14 days from travel to reduce the risk of spreading infection.
  • Have hand sanitizer available at your store entrance and throughout the store

Download a template sign you can post in your liquor store to advise customers of these precautions.

If you’re changing your store hours and need help creating a sign, please contact Danielle:

What ABLE BC and our industry partners are doing to help:

As you can imagine, we’re in touch with all levels of government several times per day during this crisis.

ABLE BC is working with other hospitality and tourism industry partners on a coordinated list of urgent and emergency policy changes and financial stimulus for our industry. 

Some of these recommendations have already been submitted and we expect government will be acting to implement supportive measures very soon. 

We are all working as quickly as possible, but this will take some time. We’ll have more details as soon as they become available.

For your reference: 

  • Download a copy of the letter sent by industry associations to Premier Horgan on March 15.
  • ABLE BC and other organizations from the business community have formed a COVID-19 Cabinet to address the significant impacts on the economy in these unprecedented times. The group will work collectively to share information on the impacts of COVID-19 and will provide a point of contact for government as it creates policies, programs and measures to support business and workers to address the significant economic impacts. 

Federal government announces $82 billion aid package

On March 18, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a $82-billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses cope with the global COVID-19 pandemic, including income support, wage subsidies, and tax deferrals. The package includes $27 billion in direct support and another $55 billion to help business liquidity through tax deferrals. 

Read our full update on what the economic stimulus package includes here.

On March 19, Finance Minister Bill Morneau said emergency funds could be available to Canadians in the next two to three weeks. 

This article by the CBC lays out how workers can apply for EI and COVID-19 emergency benefits. Government has not yet released details on how businesses can access COVID-19 support.

Other Financial Support Resources:

  • CBC News summarizes financial support available from government, banks, and British Columbia utility providers during COVID-19
  • McMillan Vantage Policy Group provides a detailed summary on all government relief efforts to date, plus additional financial support available from the private sector during COVID-19
  • RBC has created a Temporary Credit Relief Program aimed at providing credit relief due to the impact of COVID-19. There are two relief program options available:
    • Term Debt/Mortgage & Lease Facility Relief
    • Working Capital Facility 
    • For more information: clients are advised to reach out to their account manager or connect with RBC’s business advisors in your branch.
  • The federal government and Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) have partnered to develop liquidity options for affected industries. BDC is offering:

Note for Liquor Primaries: unfortunately, BDC does not give loans to any liquor primary business. ABLE BC had a lawyer review BDC’s materials and speak with the bank directly and there is nothing to indicate that this policy will change at this time. We suggest that liquor primaries speak directly with their bank. ABLE BC will stay on top of this and update members on any changes.

New templates: closing your liquor primary

Currently, all liquor primaries in the province have been ordered to close. Download the following templates to assist you in this process: 

Operations Shutdown Checklist (created by RH Hospitality Solutions)

Operations Temporarily Shutdown Signage

Operations Temporarily Shutdown Letter

If you need assistance creating other signs or letters, please contact Danielle:

Webinar: Navigating COVID-19 – Resources for Foodservice Operators

On Friday, March 20 from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm EST our industry partner Restaurants Canada is hosting a webinar for foodservice operators navigating COVID-19. Register here

The webinar will focus on best health and safety practices for consumers and employees working in restaurants still offering dine-in service, as well as best health and safety practices for employees and consumers in restaurants only offering take-out or delivery options.

The webinar will provide insights into:

  • Understanding cleaning and sanitizing procedures to reduce risk of spread
  • Food waste and food safety precautions for temporarily closed restaurants
  • Knowing what proper procedures are if an employee contracts COVID-19

Can’t make it, but still interested? Register now and you will be sent the webinar recording afterwards so you can catch up on your own time.

Notice from BC Hospitality Foundation

The BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF) is currently receiving many requests for assistance from individuals who are experiencing loss of income due to the impact of COVID-19.

Dana Lee-Harris, the BCHF’s Executive Director shared the following message:

The BC Hospitality Foundation is a registered charity that raises funds to provide assistance to hospitality industry workers in financial crisis due to an extraordinary health condition. We have, for example, given grants to individuals following kidney transplants, life-changing accidents, and terminal cancer diagnoses. In addition, we offer a scholarship program to foster the development of the next generation of hospitality industry leaders.

The BCHF receives no government funding, and we work hard to raise the funds necessary to do what we do. We should not be considered in the light of an insurance policy for individuals who are out of work.

We are reviewing applications for assistance as they arrive, on a case-by-case basis, in accordance with our mandate.

HR and Employee Support

go2HR has released information for employers considering layoffs. Read it here. They provide information on:

  • Temporary layoff
  • Termination
  • Employment insurance for dismissed employees
  • Work-sharing
  • Other suggestions for employers

go2HR is also providing recommendations on how to communicate with employees during the COVID-19 crisis and what to do if your workplace has an outbreak. Read it here.

For any urgent HR or EI concerns, go2HR is available to offer fast free advice at or 604-633-9787 ext. 222

Additional Support for Employers

Visit the Government of Canada website for additional information on:

  • How to support your employees
  • Financial implications and business preparedness
  • Business travel and events
  • Exporting and doing business in international markets

BC Chamber of Commerce: COVID-19 Business Impact Survey Results

On March 13, the BC Chamber of Commerce launched a COVID-19 Business Impact Survey and received an unprecedented 7900+ responses. 
The Chamber has prepared three online ‘insight stories’ with the results:

High-Level Overview

  • 90% of businesses are “currently being impacted by COVID-19”
  • Of those impacted, 83% are seeing a “drop in revenue, business, or deal flow”
  • 91% anticipate a further “decrease in revenue in the near-term” [sic]
  • 73% of businesses expect their revenues will drop by 50% or more (with nearly a quarter saying revenues will drop by 100%)
  • Half of the respondents say they will be “temporarily shutting down” their offices.
  • 64% of respondents expect to reduce their staff by over half (with a quarter saying they will be reducing their staff by 100%)

These insights have been sent to both the federal and provincial government – and the intelligence shared is helping shape how government reacts to this pandemic crisis in real time.

Join the fight! Become a member today.


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