March 17, 2020

Dear ABLE BC Members and Industry Colleagues, 

This afternoon, British Columbia officially declared a provincial health emergency as the number of COVID-19 cases is on the rise.

During the press conference, BC provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that all bars are ordered to close. Businesses that remain open, including grocery stores and pharmacies, should take measures to ensure social distancing – about one to two metres between all people – and restaurants that can’t meet that requirement should switch to takeout only.

Unfortunately, this provincial health order is not yet public and there is no clarity on whether Dr. Henry’s statement applies to all liquor primaries or only LP venues such as nightclubs. It is also unclear how long the order remains in place. However, it is clear that you must keep one to two metres between all people in your establishments.

ABLE BC has been working hard to get clarity from government on this statement and we will share it with you as soon as possible. But out of an abundance of caution, we are strongly encouraging all liquor primaries to close immediately.

If the situation changes, we will let you know immediately.

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly. Stay tuned for an update from ABLE BC later tonight or tomorrow morning on this issue.

BC Liquor Stores Remain Open 

There have been a number of rumours circulating that BC Liquor Stores are closing. The LDB has assured us that BCLS are open for business and the LDB has no plans to close stores. 

The following messaging was recently shared on the BC Liquor Stores website:


BC Liquor Stores remain open for business for our customers.  Some locations may experience modified hours of operation. Please visit the “store” tab on the website for more up-to-date information on store hours.

We are closely monitoring the global situation with COVID-19 as it continues to evolve. The health and safety of our customers, communities and employees is our highest priority. For more information on our response to COVID-19, click here.

Thank you for your understanding as we continue to navigate this fast changing situation. 

Ontario and Alberta have declared states of emergency. 

This morning, Ontario declared a state of emergency effective until March 31. The province has called for the immediate closure of all indoor recreational programs, public libraries, private schools, licensed child care centres, bars and restaurants (except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery), theatres and cinemas, concert venues. 

All organized events with more than 50 people are also prohibited, including parades, events and services within places of worship.

Also Tuesday, the LCBO announced it was reducing its hours, saying liquor stores would only operate from 11 am to 6 pm.

As of this morning, Albertans are prohibited from visiting a number of venues including: public recreation centres, casinos, bingo halls, bars, nightclubs, fitness centres, arenas, museums, and indoor children’s play centres. 

Sit-down restaurants, pubs, delis and coffee shops are now limited to a maximum of 50 people or 50 per cent of their maximum capacity, whichever is lower. Drive-thru, take-out and delivery will still be permitted.

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

Financial support for businesses:

ABLE BC is in touch with the provincial and federal governments daily about financial support for small businesses. We understand some support is coming, but no further details are available yet. 

During a press conference earlier today, Prime Minister Trudeau said a package of financial supports is on the way to help millions of Canadians and businesses get through the COVID-19 crisis – and he isn’t ruling out an extension to the tax filing deadline.

Tomorrow, the federal government will “be making another major announcement on economic actions to support Canadians as quickly as possible. By the end of the week, we will have more to say about changes for the upcoming tax season,” Trudeau said.

What to do if you temporarily close your bar or liquor store

If you make the decision to temporarily close your bar or liquor store, we have created templates you can use to notify customers: 

If you require edits to the sign, please contact Danielle for assistance:

Laying off staff

If you have to lay off staff during this time, you can give them information on employment standards (for non-unionized) available at this link. If your establishment is unionized, check your Collective Agreement. 

For any urgent HR concerns, please contact go2HR at or 604-633-9787 ext. 222 

ABLE BC is also organizing a webinar sponsored by go2HR for tourism/hospitality employers to take place this Thursday at 10 a.m. We’ll circulate registration details tomorrow. 

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

Commercial Liability Insurance Coverage

For your reference: Business Interruption coverage is designed to cover the loss of income that a business suffers after a physical loss to insured property. This coverage is dependent on an insurable loss being triggered such as fire, water damage, etc. and does not typically cover financial impact of pandemics

The Civil Authority extension, which covers access to a business being denied by civil authorities following a disaster, would also not apply to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Canadian Insurers have advised insurance brokers that policies are not offered for pandemic-like scenarios, including those related to the current COVID-19 outbreak. Coverage for this type of loss does not exist except for limited scenarios. The declaration of a pandemic is not a traditionally insurable loss. 

We are working with our insurance partners at Western Financial Group to get you more information on this.

Join the fight! Become a member today.


Our Partners