March 31, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues, 

We hope you enjoyed a safe and healthy weekend. We are back with daily COVID-19 liquor industry updates.

Included in today’s email you will find: 

  • Update: all businesses seeing 30% drop in revenue will be eligible for 75% wage subsidies
  • Update: BDL Cyber-attack
  • Guidance to retail food and grocery stores operating during COVID-19
  • Recap of week of March 23, 2020
  • Helpful links and resources for your business

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

Find all past updates from ABLE BC here.

Update: all businesses seeing 30% drop in revenue will be eligible for 75% wage subsidies

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced more help for small and medium-sized businesses to keep employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 crisis, including a 75 per cent wage subsidy and guaranteed interest-free loans.

Today, the prime minister announced new important details on the Government of Canada’s Emergency Wage Subsidy: 

  • Businesses that can show that their revenues have decreased at least 30% since the start of the pandemic will be eligible for the 75% wage subsidy.
  • The assessment of the 30% revenue drop will be done after the fact. If the drop was actually not this low, the company will have to repay.
  • The number of employees a company has will not determine eligibility.
  • The subsidy will apply to non-profit and charities, as well as companies that are both big and small (no cap).
  • The government will cover up to 75% of the first $58,700 that employees earn. That means up to approximately $847 a week. This will be backdated to March 15.
  • The subsidy will be a direct payment to the company so they can pay employees.

The Prime Minister indicated that there will be additional background documents and details coming tomorrow, including the estimated fiscal cost of the new program.

The Prime Minister also made very clear that any businesses that seek to take advantage of the new program, or game it, will face strict consequences – expect those details tomorrow as well. He also noted that should employers be able to cover the additional 25% of salaries not covered by the subsidy, they should pay their employees that difference.

You can read more about the Federal government COVID-19 economic response plan here.

ABLE BC, along with other industry associations, have been actively engaged with our government partners since this emergency began to secure increased support for small businesses, including a higher wage subsidy. This increased wage subsidy is a direct result of that collective industry work. We commend and fully support government for acknowledging and acting on this today.
More specific support for BC’s tourism and hospitality industry is coming. We will share those details as soon as we can.

Update: BDL Cyber-attack

As you know, on March 25, Brewers Distributor Ltd. (BDL) was subjected to a cyber-attack. Read more about this in our March 26, 2020 email

BDL continues to experience service interruptions because of the cyber-attack, but is doing everything possible to be fully operational as soon as possible. We will continue to update you.

Guidance to retail food and grocery stores operating during COVID-19

On March 29, the provincial government released new guidance to retail food and grocery stores operating during COVID-19.

While the guidance is not directed towards liquor retail stores, the following recommendations may be of use:

  • Enhance your premise’s sanitation plan and schedule, and ensure staff are practising proper hygiene. This includes frequent hand washing, only coughing or sneezing into an elbow, and avoiding touching one’s face.
  • Place hand sanitizer with a minimum of 60% ethyl alcohol in dispensers near doors, pay stations, and other high-touch locations for customer and staff use.
  • Ensure washrooms are always well stocked with liquid soap and paper towels, and that warm running water is available.
  • Provide clean carry-out bags for purchased food and grocery products; customers should not use their own containers, reusable bags, or boxes.
  • Post signs at each check-out indicating that no customer packaging is to be used or placed on check-out counters.
  • Ensure cones or tape markers are in place every two metres to provide customers with visible queues that support physical distancing.
  • Use physical queue-line controls, such as crowd control cordons at entrances and in check-out lines outside the stores.
  • Self-isolation for 14 days for anyone who has travelled outside of Canada
  • Self-isolation for a minimum of 10 days if someone displays respiratory symptoms

Read the full news release here. Download a PDF copy of the guidelines here.

Recap of week of March 23, 2020

Here’s what we covered last week:

  • Update on March 23: $5 billion provincial COVID-19 action plan, revised timeline for Serving it Right requirements when delivering liquor with take-away and delivery food, accepting cash at your establishment, posting healthcare jobs on the go2HR job board
  • Update from McMillan LLP: Essential Services
  • Update on March 24: Ontario and Quebec order closure of all non-essential businesses, LCRB cancel all SEP, changes to Employment Standards Act, new signage for your business
  • Update on March 25: House of Commons passes modified Bill C-13, BC Government support for renters and landlords, LDB not accepting returns and intermittent product delays, BC Liquor Stores close on Sunday, grocery stores need temporary staff
  • Urgent Update on March 26: Liquor industry defined as Essential Service
  • Update on March 26: confusion over Provincial Health Officer Order on March 20, public health orders are mandatory, clarification on selling draft beer, BDL cyber attack, ABLE BC policy work update, what to do if an employee tests positive for COVID-19, Plexiglas barriers for liquor stores
  • Urgent Update on March 27: Government boosts wage subsidy to 75%
  • Update on March 27: LDB update, province defines LDB as essential service, BDL update, WorkSafeBC defers Q1 2020 Payment, LCRB policy directive on packaged and sale of draught beer, complying with emergency act and public health orders

Find all past ABLE BC updates here.

Helpful links and resources for your business

New resources, tools, and other content are being created at a rapid rate to support businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. 

Here are some helpful links we have recently come across:

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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