VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Government and private liquor stores remain open in B.C. but the COVID-19 has changed how people in the province can get beer, wine and spirits.
Bars across the province have been closed, and restaurants have been ordered to move to take-out ad delivery only.
On Saturday, the province announced a change that will allow restaurants to serve booze along with food.
“More British Columbians are relying on delivery services during the COVID-19 pandemic,” David Eby, Attorney General said in a ststement.
“Permitting licensed restaurants to hire their out of work servers to deliver liquor products as part of their food-delivery service allows the public to continue to observe social distancing measures and also offers much-needed support to these workers and businesses.”
The province said the change also makes alcohol available for take-out.
Identification will be checked at the doorstep and staff who provide liquor will be required to have Serving it Right certification.
— Marcella Bernardo (@Bernardo1130) March 22, 2020
Meantime, government-run liquor stores have limited their hours and the number of customers allowed in at one time.
Changes in hours vary by location, and are partly meant to provide extra time for cleaning during off hours.
The province is assuring people that there is no shortage of things to drink.
“There is no shortage of beer, wine and spirits in B.C., an increase in sales and customers has led to challenges in keeping shelves properly stocked. The adjusted hours will allow staff to ensure products are available for customers at a time when stores have been experiencing staffing shortages.
One epidemiologist says reducing hours is the wrong move.
“Reducing hours and concentrating customers into crowded times makes no sense, as would forming lines outside,” said Donald Milton, who studies the spread of virus particles at the University of Maryland.
Milton said the potential for crammed spaces risks spreading the virus, which has killed 19 Canadians and thousands worldwide.
He recommends either closing stores entirely or maintaining regular or extended hours.
In addition to B.C., government-run liquor stores in provinces including Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia are scaling back operations, opening their doors for between seven and nine hours on most days as a preventative measure.
With files from The Canadian Press