March 20, 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 email:

  • New: liquor primaries allowed to reopen for takeaway or delivery only
  • New: all Vancouver dining establishments ordered to close today (March 20)
  • Update: BC Liquor Stores not closing but reducing hours and taking additional precautions
  • Update: what ABLE BC is doing to help
  • Financial support available to businesses
  • HR support and resources
  • New LCRB policy directive: manufacturing and sale of hand sanitizers

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

Find all past updates from ABLE BC here.

Update: Liquor Primaries allowed to reopen for takeaway or delivery only

BC’s Public Health Officer has ordered that all dine-in service in BC be cancelled

LPs may re-open to offer take-away or delivery food services only. LPs that focus on liquor service (such as nightclubs) are prohibited from opening at this time.

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

New: all Vancouver dining establishments ordered to close today

The City of Vancouver has issued an official order to shut down all restaurant table service as of midnight on Friday, March 20. Only takeout or delivery will be allowed, and any establishment found to be operating table service as of 12:01 am on Saturday will be subject to enforcement.

Update: BC Liquor Stores Remain Open

There are currently no plans to close BC Liquor Stores; however stores are shortening hours and taking additional health and safety precautions. Read the BC government news update from March 20 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. 

Financial support available to businesses and employees 

Federal government: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

  • Business Credit Availability Program (available through Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada): provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. We are aware that BDC has restrictions in place against providing loans to Liquor Primaries. We are working directly with the federal government to change this so that your businesses will be eligible. We hope to have details soon. 
  • Canada Revenue Agency tax deferral payments: can defer tax payments until after August 31 if they’re due after March 18 and before September. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
  • Extending the tax filing deadline to June 1
  • 10% wage subsidy for small businesses: eligible small businesses can get a 10 per cent wage subsidy for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer, to help keep people on the payroll. This also includes not-for-profit organizations and charities. 
  • Emergency Care Benefit: up to $900 every two weeks, for up to 15 weeks, will provide income support to workers, including the self-employed, who have to stay home and don’t qualify for paid sick leave or employment insurance. Applications open in April.
  • Emergency Support Benefit: for workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment; delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency. Applications open in April. 
  • Special measures for Employment Insurance: waived one-week waiting period and requirement of medical certificate. Apply for EI sickness benefits through the government website.

Read our full update on what the economic response plan includes here

Guidelines on how businesses can apply for federal funding should be available in the next 2 weeks.

Business Development Bank of Canada: liquidity options

  • Small Business Loans: up to $100,000 can be obtained online in as little as 48 hours from the time of approval.
  • Working Capital Loans: get extra funds to bridge cash flow gaps and support everyday operations.
  • Purchase Order Financing: increase your cash flow to fulfill domestic or international orders with very flexible terms.

Note: we are aware that BDC has restrictions in place against providing loans to Liquor Primaries. We are working directly with the federal government to change this so that your businesses will be eligible. We hope to have details soon.

RBC: Temporary Credit Relief Program

  • There are two relief program options available: 1) Term Debt/Mortgage & Lease Facility Relief and 2) 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.

Canada’s Six Biggest Banks: Financial Relief Plans

  • Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges such as pay disruption due to COVID-19; childcare disruption due to school closures; or those facing illness from COVID-19.
  • Learn more here

Utility Bills

  • BC Hydro has introduced a COVID-19 customer assistance program to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. Call BC Hydro’s customer team at 1-800-224-9376 to discuss bill payment options.
  • The City of Port Coquitlam is waiving the March 31 penalty and extending the deadline for payment of 2020 utility bills which includes water, sewer and solid waste. The next due date is May 31 but the city will consider extending it further closer to the time. 

go2HR Resources and Support

Visit the go2HR website for information on:

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

Other HR Resources

  • The Forum for Women Entrepreneurs is hosting a free webinar on Monday, March 23 at 11:00 am to help businesses learn how to manage and handle HR during this unprecedented times. The webinar is open to anyone: sign-up here.
  • The Canadian Payroll Association put together an FAQ to help employers process layoffs correctly.

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

New LCRB Policy Directive: Manufacturing and sale of hand sanitizers

On March 20, the LCRB introduced Policy Directive 20-03: allows the production and sale of hand sanitizer by licensed manufacturers in response to the unprecedented circumstances of the provincial public health emergency related to COVID-19.

Download the policy directive.

Download requirements from the Liquor Distribution Branch regarding the production of hand sanitizers by BC craft and commercial distilleries.

For more information:

Public Health Agency of Canada Website

Updates from the Government of British Columbia

Updates and Resources from ABLE BC

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

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