At the end of March 2021, BC restaurants, pubs and bars were again ordered by the BC Provincial Health Officer to move to take-out, delivery, or patio service only. This was the second such indoor service ban since the beginning of the pandemic. At the time, Ian Tostensen, President and CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCRFA), expressed concerns that upward of 30% of eateries in BC could be forced to close for good because of this second indoor dining ban. Mr. Tostensen expressed frustrations echoed by many British Columbians, saying “Now it’s getting serious. We’re talking about businesses going under because a certain element of the population don’t want to pay attention to the rules”.
In response to BC’s third wave of COVID-19, and recent spikes in infections rising to over 1000 cases per day in BC, on April 19, Doctor Bonnie Henry announced an extension of the order, which was then published on April 21. The order remains in place until May 25 at midnight, and affects restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, cafeterias, pubs, bars, lounges, nightclubs, liquor manufacturer tasting rooms, and private clubs.
It’s a testament to the courage of owners of eateries and drinkeries that the vast majority comply with Provincial Health Officer’s Orders, even when they have such a negative impact on the business and livelihoods of owners and their employees. The are BC’s unsung heroes, who have made living through a pandemic bearable with the comfort and convenience their services provide. For those restaurants openly defying the indoor dining ban, BCRFA’s position was made clear:
“The actions of a few selfish, arrogant and irresponsible restaurant owners do not in any way reflect the significant effort this industry has made to ensure public safety. As an industry, we have worked too hard to have a few restauranteurs taint our reputation by openly defying the Provincial Health Order.” – Ian Tostensen, BCRFA.
The “Circuit Breaker Business Relief Grant” was created by BC government in reaction to the March 31, 2021 indoor service and indoor dining ban. While the grant was welcome relief, when it was first released, many said it was “too little, too late”.
As Rob Shaw pointed out in the Orca article “Panic at the bistro” at the time of the announcement, few of BC’s 14,000 restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, wineries, and breweries would have been eligible for the full amount of the relief package, which required the business to have 100 or more employees. Most businesses have 5-99 employees and would have been eligible for $5000 (see the original grant amounts in the Wayback Machine archives). On April, 26, BC Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon announced that an additional $75 million would be added the program.
Other types of businesses became eligible for the grant and funding doubled, as follows:
No employees (or indeterminate for short-term accommodation businesses): $2,000.
1 to 4 employees: $4,000 (was $2,000)
5-99 employees: $10,000 (was $5,000)
100+ employees: $20,000 (was $10,000)
Considering the program was put together in record time, it’s no surprise the “first edition” had issues. The equally fast changes to eligibility criteria and funding amounts are a step in the right direction.
If you run a BC restaurant or liquor business and have questions about COVID-19 policy directives, remaining compliant and up to speed with public health orders, give the experts at Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors a shout! We can’t end the pandemic, but we can make it easier for your business to stay on track and compliant!Book a Free 30-Minute Consultation Today