March 30, 2021

Dear ABLE BC members and industry colleagues,

As we shared in yesterday’s update, bars, pubs, restaurants, and food courts are closed for indoor dining until April 19, 2021 at 11:59 pm. Patio seating and takeout or delivery is allowed.

A copy of the public order is still not available but will be posted here. More information is available on this government website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do these restrictions impact winery, brewery, or distillery tasting rooms? 

Yes, they do. Breweries, wineries, and distilleries are allowed to remain open provided they offer full meal service – for takeout, delivery, or service on the patio. 

Sampling: we have confirmed that a customer can sample product inside a manufacturing facility for the purposes of determining if they wish to purchase it. I.e., having a sample of wine before buying a bottle. But customers cannot come into the facility, sit down, and have a drink. 

Do these restrictions impact private clubs? 

It is our understanding these restrictions impact all licensed establishments, including private clubs. In all prior orders for food and liquor-serving establishments, private clubs have been included in the restrictions.

Do I need to serve a full meal or do appetizers and snacks suffice? 

We have not seen the public order yet, but yesterday Dr. Henry verbally announced that if you don’t offer full meal service, you must close. Serving only snacks and appetizers is not sufficient. While there is no specific definition of a ‘meal’ available, packaged snacks for instance do not count as a meal. 

What is considered a patio? 

The intention is to have an area with open, unimpeded air flow. A glassed-in or winterized patio or solarium would not qualify unless the barriers to airflow are removed. We expect a clearer definition of a patio from the PHO shortly.

Can I set up a temporary patio? How do I get government approval?

To set up a temporary patio, you need to apply for a Temporary Expanded Service Area through the LCRB. You can do so until October 31, 2021. If you already have a TESA, it is valid until October 31.

Food primaries, liquor primaries, and manufacturers can apply for TESA here.

The LCRB has been reviewing and approving completed applications for TESAs in approximately five days.

The permanent structural change process is also available and work is currently being completed to streamline and identify efficiencies to improve this process.

How do I expand my redline boundaries? 

You will need LCRB approval to do so. Login via your BCeID, click temporary expansion, and follow the steps from there. We also recommend contacting your municipality to find out how they’re handling temporary expansions. Many municipalities have elected to defer to the Province, but the City of Vancouver, for example has a different process.

Do patrons have to wear a mask while on the patio? 

Patrons must wear a mask whenever they are not seated.

Can patrons use the washrooms indoors? 

Yes, but patrons must wear a mask when going to and from the washroom.

Do I have to layoff staff? What options do I have?

First and foremost, we encourage employers to provide lots of open, transparent, and ongoing communication with your staff.

Make it clear to staff this is not an option, but a public order: indoor dining is not allowed and you have no choice but to close your indoor service. Continue to communicate with your staff throughout the next several weeks.

Employers may want to consider working with staff to adjust schedules, reduce hours, have staff take vacation, or encourage work-sharing.

The EI Work-Sharing Program helps employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary decrease in business activity beyond the control of the employer. The program provides EI benefits to eligible employees who agree to reduce their normal working hours and share the available work while their employer recovers.

If you have not already applied for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and are eligible to do so, consider applying.

If you do not qualify for the wage subsidy and have to lay employees off, a temporary layoff is when an employee earns less than 50% of their regular weekly wages (averaged over the previous eight weeks that they worked), with the plan that the employee will return to a regular work schedule.

Layoffs are not automatic. Important to note:

  • Employees must agree to be laid off or layoffs must be part of the employment contract.
  • If an employee doesn’t agree to the layoff, it may be considered a termination of the employment.
  • If the employee won’t be returning to work, the layoff is a termination of employment.
  • If an employee is laid off, they’re still considered to be employed. Any benefits and entitlements, including vacation and leaves of absence, are protected.
  • Laid off employees may choose to file for EI

Depending on each individual’s situation, an employee may or may not qualify for regular EI benefitsNew EI benefits include the Canada Recovery Benefit and Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.

If you have any other questions about employment and layoffs, we encourage you to contact Ginger Brunner (Regional HR Specialist, go2HR):

What provincial financial support is available to me? 

  • BC Recovery Benefit: one-time, tax-free payment of up to $500 for individuals and $1000 for families
  • Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant: grants of $10,000 to $30,000 to support eligible BC businesses. An additional $5,000 to $15,000 grant is available to tourism-related businesses. As of March 4, a business is required to demonstrate only a 30% revenue loss in any one month between March 2020 to the point of application.
  • Launch Online Grant Program: grants up to $7,500 to eligible BC businesses to create an online shop and/or improve their e-commerce experience to attract new local customers and expand to new markets.

What federal financial support is available to me? 

How should I navigate this with my customers?

  • Post signage in your establishment indicating indoor dining is closed until April 19th due to current health restrictions, but your patio (if applicable) is open.
  • If you do not have patio, encourage customers to make reservations with you for after April 19.
  • Ask customers to support your business in other ways. Town Hall Brandsand Daily Hive shared some helpful ideas:
  • Take advantage of spring weather and dine outside on patios
  • Order Easter dinner to-go
  • Gather outside and order take-out
  • Order take-out to enjoy at home
  • Support and talk about your favourite establishments on social media
  • Buy gift cards and use them later
  • Keep customers informed as regulations change and when you are able to reopen indoor dining

What else is ABLE BC doing to help? 

We are continuing to work with the Dr. Henry and her team to get clarity on the new orders and questions above.

ABLE BC is also pushing for urgent and direct financial support for BC’s hospitality industry. At this point in the pandemic, we know you have likely accessed the provincial and federal programs available to you, and have already incurred significant debt to get to this point. It is vital government provides new, targeted financial support for BC’s hospitality industry.

We are working with our industry partners to move this issue forward and will keep you updated.

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

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