May 21, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues, 

We hope you enjoyed a safe and happy long weekend. As you know, last week was an eventful one – with the province and WorkSafeBC releasing reopening protocols and a new Provincial Health Officer order for liquor and food primaries.

As many liquor primaries start to reopen this week, we’ll be continuing to support you with best practices, resources, and other tools. ABLE BC’s Liquor Retailer COVID-19 Best Practices guide will also be released this week.

Beginning this week, we’re planning to reduce our email updates to 2 updates per week (excepting of course anything urgent).

As always, if you have any additional questions or need to reach us you can email: or

Here’s what else you’ll find in today’s COVID-19 update:

  • Recap of last week’s updates
  • Liquor Primary Reopening: Updates and Zoom Meeting on May 22
  • Nightclub Owners and Operators: Zoom Meeting on May 26
  • Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance applications open next week
  • New update to Canada Emergency Business Account
  • Update on patios and hospitality discount
  • Non-medical face masks recommended by Canada health officials

Find all past updates from ABLE BC here.

If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact us by email: or

Recap of last week’s updates

Here’s what you may have missed from ABLE BC last week: 

  • Update on May 16: new Provincial Health Officer Order confirms May 19 reopening date with restrictions
  • Update on May 15: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy extended to August 29, tips for building customer confidence, new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, new LCRB Policy Directive 20-12, ContainerWorld operational advisory, ABLE BC member discount on hand sanitizer
  • Urgent Update on May 15: reopening protocols for pubs, restaurants, and cafes
  • Update on May 13: Attorney General clearing liquor-related roadblocks for liquor and food primaries, new Buy BC E-Commerce Platform, join Breaking Bread online platform, call for comprehensive Federal Paid Sick Leave program

Find all past ABLE BC updates here.

Liquor Primary Reopening: Updates and Zoom Meeting on May 22

Reopening Protocols: Last week, WorkSafeBC released their reopening protocols and guidelines for restaurants, cafes, and pubs. View the protocols here.

Per WorkSafeBC: Employers are required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan that outlines the policies, guidelines, and procedures they have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. 

This plan follows the six steps outlined by WorkSafeBC on COVID-19 and returning to safe operation. Employers must involve frontline workers, joint health and safety committees, and supervisors in identifying protocols for their workplace. 

You do not need a formal plan in place to begin operation, but are expected to develop it while protecting the safety of your workers.

View a sample COVID-19 Safety Plan here.

WorkSafeBC will not be reviewing or approving the plans of individual employers, but in accordance with the order of the Provincial Health Officer, this plan must be posted at the worksite and on your website.

During a WorkSafeBC inspection, they will ask employers about the steps they have taken to protect their workers or to see the plan if it has been developed.

New Provincial Health Officer Order: on May 15, the Provincial Health Officer released a new order confirming the May 19 reopening with additional restrictions.

View the Provincial Health Officer Order here.

Unfortunately, the PHO order limits operators to 50% of your current occupancy. 

ABLE BC is already working with our industry association colleagues on amending this capacity limit. We continue to believe that capacity limits should be based only on your ability to maintain physical distancing between customers, and not an arbitrary reduction in overall licensed capacity. We’ll keep you apprised of our progress in the days ahead.

From the PHO order, it is also unclear if liquor primaries that do not offer meal-service are able to reopen. We are working to get clarification on this for you as soon as possible.

Zoom Meeting on Friday: join ABLE BC for a Zoom meeting and Q&A on Liquor Primary Reopening Protocols on Friday, May 22 at 1:00 pm PT.

Please RSVP here. Upon receiving your RSVP, we will send you a Zoom meeting link.

Submit your questions in advance about liquor primary reopening protocols and best practices. You can also ask questions during the Zoom meeting.

Nightclub Owners and Operators: Zoom Meeting on May 26

Regrettably, nightclubs are not included in the above Liquor Primary re-openings. In BC’s Restart Plan, the province acknowledged further challenges await when it comes to getting everything fully reopened, including reopening nightclubs and casinos. 

Next week, ABLE BC will be hosting a Zoom meeting for all nightclub owners and operators to further discuss this issue: Tuesday, May 26 at 10:00 am PT.

Please RSVP here. Upon receiving your RSVP, we will send you a Zoom meeting link.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance: applications open next week 

Applications for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program open on May 25.

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance “offers unsecured, forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to: reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants, and meet operating expenses on commercial properties.”

Property owners must offer a minimum of a 75% rent reduction for the months of April, May and June 2020.

Today, Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed the federal and provincial governments will help cover 50% of the rent. Tenants would pay 25%, and landlords would take a 25% hit.

Tenants can also use programs like the Canada Emergency Business Account to cover rent.

Learn more about the program here.

Find out how you can get ready to apply for the program here

New update to Canada Emergency Business Account

The Canada Emergency Business Account provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to eligible businesses. To qualify, businesses will need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25% (up to $10,000).

The CEBA will be implemented by eligible financial institutions in cooperation with Export Development Canada.

Update to CEBA on May 19:

The Government of Canada has announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the CEBA to include many owner-operated small businesses with payroll lower than $20,000. 

This change will mean increased eligibility for sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payrolls.

Expanded Eligibility Criteria:

To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:

  • a business operating account at a participating financial institution
  • a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
  • eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.

Click here for full details on the Government of Canada website.

What if I don’t qualify for CEBA?

Businesses that don’t meet the eligibility criteria for CEBA can apply for funding under Western Economic Diversification Canada’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund.

Update on patios and hospitality discount

Last week, Attorney General David Eby confirmed that Premier John Horgan has instructed him to move quickly on clearing liquor-related roadblocks for pubs, bars, and restaurants. 

Specifically, the Attorney General referenced two urgent requests that are being actively explored within government: 

  • wholesale prices for hospitality licensees
  • expedited provincial approval for patios and expanded outdoor liquor service

These would be significant wins for our members and are essential for our industry’s long-term economic recovery. 

While ABLE BC and other industry associations on the Business Technical Advisory Panel have been working the past several weeks on expanding outdoor liquor service, allowing hospitality customers to purchase liquor at wholesale prices is one of our long-standing policy priorities.

Working with government on patio permitting: ABLE BC and our industry partners are actively working with municipalities and the province on providing flexible, innovative, and expedited patio permitting.

In a recent interview with This is VANCOLOUR, the Attorney General shared some encouraging comments on expediting patio approvals, while acknowledging the increased demand for patios and need for municipal support.

We’ve also received encouraging feedback from municipalities. We hope to have some positive updates for you in the coming days.

Hospitality Discount: during the same interview, when asked about a hospitality discount, Eby said government is “looking for efficiencies on both sides to put together a proposal that would work for everybody.” 

To be clear: no decision or timeline on possible hospitality pricing has yet been announced. We will share any information as soon as it becomes available.

Non-medical face masks recommended by Canada health officials

This morning, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said Canadians should wear a non-medical mask as an “added layer of protection” whenever physical distancing is not possible.

Please note: this is a personal choice and you, your employees, and/or customers are not required to wear face masks within your establishment. However, having employees wear non-medical masks may increase the comfort level of your staff and customers.

Reminder: you can ask customers to temporarily remove their mask so you can check their ID. Download a template ABLE BC sign to advise customers of this.

For more information:

Public Health Agency of Canada Website

Updates from the Government of British Columbia

Updates and Resources from ABLE BC

Human Resources & Occupational Health & Safety Info from go2HR

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