March 24, 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:

  • $5 billion provincial COVID-19 action plan announced
  • Ontario and Quebec order closure of all non-essential businesses
  • Sign the Save Small Business petition today
  • Delivering liquor with take-away and delivery meals: revised timeline for Serving it Right requirements
  • Delivering liquor with take-away and delivery meals: packaging clarification
  • Update: accepting cash at your establishment
  • Healthcare Jobs on go2HR Job Board
  • BC Wine Institute Webinar Tomorrow

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

Find all past updates from ABLE BC here.

Provincial Government announces $5 billion COVID-19 action plan

Today, the provincial government announced a $5 billion COVID-19 Action Plan: British Columbia’s first steps to support people and businesses. 

The plan dedicates $2.8 billion to help people and fund the services they need to weather the crisis; $2.2 billion will provide relief to businesses and help them recover after the outbreak. 

BC’s COVID-19 Action Plan builds on the federal government’s COVID-19 economic plan and boosts supports for British Columbians. 

We have provided a high-level overview of the Action Plan below. You can find all measures announced today here.

Support for business

  • Business and light and major industry property classes will see their school property tax cut in half for the 2020 tax year, providing $500 million in relief for businesses that own their property and for tenants on triple-net leases
  • $1.5 billion in provincial funding will support economic stimulus once the pandemic has passed

Find all measures announced today here.

Supportive tax measures

  • Effective immediately, many provincial tax filing and payment deadlines are deferred to September 30, 2020
  • Businesses with a payroll over $500,000 can defer their employer health tax payments until September 30, 2020. Businesses under this threshold are already exempt.
  • Payments for PST, employer health tax, municipal and regional district tax, carbon tax, motor fuel tax, and tobacco tax are deferred.
  • The scheduled increase to the carbon tax rate and application of PST to e-commerce transactions and sweetened and carbonated drinks will be delayed.

Find all measures announced today here. Read more about provincial tax changes here.

Support for workers

  •  New BC Emergency Benefit for Workers: tax-free $1000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by COVID-19. It will be a one-time payment for BC residents who receive federal EI, or the new federal Emergency Care Benefit, or the new federal Emergency Support Benefit.

Find all measures announced today here.

Support for the Tourism and Hospitality Industry 

It is important to note this is only a start of the provincial government’s economic support. The Minister of Finance indicated that additional measures aimed specifically at the hospitality and tourism sector will be coming soon. We will circulate details as soon as they are available. As of Friday, about 80% of BC’s liquor primaries and 50% of all restaurants were closed. Last week, our industry was forced to lay off over 80% of our 190,000 hospitality workers. 

While the provincial efforts mentioned above – like deferrals for the Employer Health Tax and PST remissions – are helpful, we have been clear with government that our industry’s most urgent concern is liquidity. We know that each of you have expenses that don’t stop just because your business is closed and that funnelling cash directly to small businesses will be essential to keeping the economy moving.

What ABLE BC and other industry associations are doing:

  • On behalf of BC’s tourism and hospitality industry, TIABC has written to Minister Beare, Minister of Tourism, Arts, and Culture, proposing specific government measures to assist industry. Download a copy of the letter
  • ABLE BC, BCRFA, and BC Craft Brewers Guild are writing all municipalities, proposing practical measures municipalities can take now to help hospitality businesses during this time of crisis. A copy of the letter will be available soon.

Ontario and Quebec order closure of all non-essential businesses

Today, Quebec and Ontario both ordered the closure of all non-essential workplaces, as the number of COVID-19 cases in Canada surpassed 2,000. The closures are set to begin at 11:59 p.m. ET Tuesday.  

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said that the province will be “on hold” for at least three weeks, until April 13. The Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC), and restaurants (take out or delivery counters only) will remain open. Find the full list of Quebec essential services here

Ontario Premier Doug Ford, meanwhile, said the list of what constitutes essential and non-essential services and stores will be released Tuesday. But he insisted residents will be able to buy food and medicine and other essential products, that “the power will stay on,” and telecommunications tools will continue to run. 

A senior government source has confirmed to CTV News Toronto that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), the Beer Store and licensed cannabis retailers will remain open. 

In yesterday’s update, we shared an article on what essential services are and how your business may be impacted if the federal government invokes emergency legislation. 

ABLE BC is doing everything we can to keep liquor stores open, if the BC government orders the closure of all non-essential businesses. 

We are contacting the Attorney General and offices of the Premier and Prime Minister to request that the following businesses be deemed essential: liquor stores, rural agency stores, on-premise facilities (operating in accordance with the Provincial Health Officer’s order), and liquor manufacturers (many of whom are currently producing free hand sanitizer). We have engaged McMillan LLP to assist us in this matter.

 Government has made clear so far that they do not plan to close liquor stores. Earlier this afternoon, Premier Horgan stated BC currently has no plans to implement a provincial shutdown of services. 

We are also encouraged by the actions in Ontario and Quebec and continue to engage with government on a daily basis on this matter. ABLE BC will provide urgent updates as soon as they are available.

Sign the Save Small Business petition today

As you well know, many small businesses across Canada have closed their doors amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Many more are expected to follow in the coming months.

The ‘Save Small Business’ petition is calling on government to pause small businesses expenses, so businesses are able to reopen when it’s time to restart the economy.

Sign the petition here.The petition calls for the federal government to:

  • Pause rent April 1: mandate the first $10,000 of commercial rent is waved for 3 months
  • Increase the wage subsidy from 10% to 55% for the first 25 employees
  • Defer debt obligations

The House of Commons will be sitting tomorrow, so we ask you to sign this petition immediately.

Delivering liquor with take-away and delivery meals: revised timeline for Serving It Right requirements

Effective March 21, liquor primaries and food primaries operating in compliance with the provincial health order are allowed to sell alcohol with take-away and delivery meals. 

The person delivering must have Serving it Right and must ensure the customer is of legal drinking age. As with all liquor sales, it is ultimately the licensees’ responsibility to ensure compliance.

The Attorney General announced these changes officially on March 22, and encouraged operators to hire their out of work servers to deliver liquor products as part of their food-delivery service. You may also use a third-party to deliver (e.g. Foodora, Uber Eats, Door Dash, etc). 

Revised timeline: All delivery persons delivering liquor with a meal from an establishment have until April 20, 2020 to get their valid Serving It Right certification. This includes both employee delivery persons and third-party delivery persons.

For more information:

Delivering liquor with take-away and delivery meals: packaging clarification

We have received a number of questions from members on how liquor must be packaged when delivering it with take-away and delivery meals.

Per the updated Liquor Primary Terms and Conditionseffective until July 15, 2020, you may sell packaged beer, including draught beer in new vessels provided by you, wine, cider and coolers, spirits and liqueurs for off-site consumption with the order of a meal.You are restricted to selling liquor to retail patrons. You cannot sell liquor to licensed establishments, such as restaurants or bars, to other types of establishments that are authorized to sell liquor, or to special event permit holders. Drinks mixed by the licensee may not be sold for off-site consumption.

With respect to ‘new vessels,’ the intent is a traditional glass growler or bomber-type vessel. For example, you cannot allow a fast-food style beverage container or “sippy-cup,” as those would not meet the legal prohibition against having open liquor in their car. New vessels are emphasized as opposed to something a customer might bring in, to ensure establishments are meeting the Provincial Health Officer order.

Update: accepting cash at your establishment

In our COVID-19 update on March 16, we recommended that establishments temporarily stop accepting cash payments. This recommendation came from the World Health Organization, who declared that hard currency could be carrying COVID-19 and encouraged people to use contactless payments when possible. 

The WHO has since updated their statement, saying currency doesn’t transmit COVID-19 but retailers should still take precautions.

The Bank of Canada strongly advocates that retailers continue to accept cash to ensure Canadians can have access to the goods and services they need. 

Based on advice from the Government of Canada and WHO, the Bank of Canada says the risks posed from handling Canadian bank notes are no greater than those posed by touching other common surfaces such as doorknobs, kitchen counters and handrails. Canadians handling cash should follow the public health guidelines on COVID-19 and wash their hands as they would do for other activities.

If you choose to accept cash at your establishment, here are some other precautions you can take:

  • Wear disposable gloves when handling cash
  • Limit accepting cash to one or two registers and ensure those registers have particularly deep attention to sanitization
  • Wash your hands after handling cash

BC Liquor Stores are continuing to accept cash at their locations.

A Solution for Your Displaced Employees: Healthcare Jobs on go2HR Job Board 

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, many tourism and hospitality employers have to reduce opening hours, lay off employees, or even shut down the operation completely.

While some employers have come up with ways to assist their displaced employees, many are still impacted by the shortage of work. 
go2HR is pleased to offer a solution to help your staff find temporary employment during this trying time. 

As you know, the healthcare sector, including private care homes and senior residences, has an urgent staffing need. They have job openings that are suitable for displaced tourism and hospitality employees, such as front desk, servers, kitchen staff and housekeepers. These positions are a perfect transition for your staff while we are riding out the storm. 

Effective immediately, go2HR is allowing healthcare employers to post their job openings on the go2HR Job Board for free. 

The goal is to provide a tool for displaced tourism and hospitality employees to find temporary work, to ensure their livelihood is not disrupted. 

Tell your team about the go2HR Job Board. Let them know that these job opportunities will be posted and can help them in the short term. At the same time, we encourage you to stay in touch with your team. Keep them posted on the status of your operation, and make sure to invite them back to work when your organization returns to normal operation. 

Let’s all work together as a community to weather the storm!

BC Wine Institute Webinar Tomorrow

In these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever to stay connected. 

The BC Wine Institute invites you to join them tomorrow (Tuesday, March 24) at 10:00 am as they host a webinar to provide an update on BC Wine Institute (BCWI) efforts and plans in response to COVID-19, and start a dialogue about how we can continue to work together to support and promote our industry during this uncertain time. 

Please register for the webinar here

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

Join the fight! Become a member today.


Our Partners