VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – B.C.’s top doctor has no plans to ease the rules when it comes to late-night liquor sales at bars and restaurants right now.
B.C. marked yet another recording-breaking day for COVID-19 cases across the province, with 165 new cases announced on Thursday.
While restaurant and pub owners have been hoping the provincial health officer would ease the rules and let them sell liquor past 10 p.m. again, Dr. Bonnie Henry said that would not happen.
“It was becoming increasingly challenging for public health to identify and get on top of those places who were breaking the rules,” she said at her COVID-19 briefing on Thursday. “We were also hearing from employees in many of these restaurants and bars where things became out of hand later at night that they thought they were at risk.”
Henry said rule-breakers need to prove they can hold their liquor, so to speak.
“We know that restaurants, most of them, close by 10 or 11 o’clock. They have very good safety plans in place and they are working. But it’s the late night, when they turn into a lounge-type environment where they are having challenges,” Henry said.
Henry added numerous coronavirus transmissions have been linked to what she calls the time of night when things become “liquor forward.”
B.C. ordered that as of Sept. 8, liquor sales in all bars, pubs, and restaurants would need to cease at 10 p.m. and that establishments would need to close by 11 p.m., unless they are providing full meal service.
The order also required all nightclubs and banquet halls to close until further notice.
Henry said that these decisions were not made lightly, and that efforts were being taken to try and minimize the impact such enforcement would have on businesses that never broke the rules.
“We’ve talked about exposure events at some of the parties at banquet halls, as well as at nightclubs. We’ve worked with both industries to try and put in place the safety protocols, but we’ve had increasing and continuing exposure events that have led to more transmission, as well as second-generation transmission from people who were exposed to those who were at these parties and events,” Henry explained.
She has promised more clarity around the banquet hall order after concerns were raised by those in that industry.
“Before we put this order in place, we had discussions around the province and it was not just a local issue, which is why we responded with a public health order around these specific areas. But, yes, we are working out the details so that everybody knows exactly what, which is included and which isn’t.”
-With files from Amanda Wawryk