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B.C. bars, restaurants not expecting last-minute Super Bowl restrictions

Last Updated Feb 4, 2021 at 6:37 am PST

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B.C.'s bar and restaurant industry says it's not expecting any last-minute COVID-19 restrictions for Super Bowl weekend

ABLE BC tells NEWS 1130 industry has been in contact with the province over restriction concerns ahead of Super Bowl

Super Bowl celebrations will be subdued this year, with guidelines in place for bars, restaurants due to COVID-19

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Super Bowl Sunday is usually the second most important day of the year for pubs and restaurants. However, things will look a lot different this year in B.C. as they deal with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

While fans are in for a much more subdued watching experience at local watering holes, the industry says it’s not expecting any last-minute changes to public health orders regarding alcohol sales.

That’s after 11th-hour changes to restrictions on alcohol that were brought in for New Year’s Eve, taking everyone by surprise.

Jeff Guignard with the Alliance of Beverage Licensees (ABLE) says this time, the industry has been in discussions with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

“I think at the beginning of the week we were scared of that (last minute restrictions), when she said new restrictions might be coming out on Friday. We pushed back immediately and said we can’t do it on Friday because the game’s on Sunday. And there’s been active discussions about this for the last couple of days and as far we understand, there’s no new, additional restrictions being placed on industry at this time,” he tells NEWS 1130.

Henry on Monday once again urged British Columbians to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“I am calling on everybody right now: hold off on the Super Bowl celebrations,” she said, adding people should not be mingling with those outside their households.

“We don’t yet have enough people protected that we aren’t going to get spillover into people who are going to end up in hospital and, unfortunately, have serious illness from COVID,” Henry added.

To mute the party this year to help curb the spread of COVID-19, ABLE has sent a notice to its members, telling them they cannot promote any Super Bowl parties, can’t host contests, promotions or prize tables, and can’t turn up the sound of the game beyond conversational level, with no cheering and celebrating allowed.

The B.C. government received a lot of criticism for its decision to implement early alcohol sale cutoffs on Dec. 31, only announcing the temporary measure the afternoon before. While many didn’t have any issues with the order itself — which required establishments and stores stop alcohol sales at 8 p.m. — they fired back at the province, saying it didn’t give businesses enough time to prepare.

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As a result, many restaurants saw reservation cancellations, despite preparations having already been made for the New Year’s Eve crowds.

“After the fiasco on New Year’s Eve, when we were given 24-hours notice and had to change all sorts of things about our programing and wasted a lot of money on ingredients, we’ve been working pretty closely with Dr. Henry and her team to try and ensure that doesn’t happen again,” Guignard adds.

Guignard says it has to look and feel like any other pandemic Sunday at the pub — it just happens to have the big game on in the background.

“It’s not going to be a traditional Super Bowl that we used to have in the before times,” he notes. “We know our bars and pubs members have got the right protocols in place to keep folks safe and to keep their staff safe, and if you go out and follow the rules you can have a safe Super Bowl. But it’s going to be substantially more muted and quiet than it has been.”

Supporting local

If you’re planning to watch the big game at home, you’re being reminded to only do so with your household as parties and large gatherings are still restricted under provincial health orders.

“If you want to take your household and go out to a pub or restaurant or bar and watch it on a larger screen, have some fun, we can do that very, very safely,” Guignard says, adding all the safeguards people have come to get used to will still be in place. “You’ll notice that the protocols in place are all designed to keep you safe. We’re going to make sure that the group sizes are no more than six people — so if you show up with larger groups than that, we’re going to separate you, you cannot mingle between tables, and you have to maintain two metres distance from all those tables.”

With many people still concerned about transmission of COVID-19 and who would rather spend the day at home, there are still ways to support your favourite businesses.

They need it.

“About 80 per cent — 80 per cent — of our industry are losing money right now. So if you want to have your local pubs and restaurants stick around, you need to support them now,” Guignard notes.

-With files from Kathryn Tindale