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If you run a private liquor store, an on-premise liquor or food business, or a retail cannabis store in BC, there are provincial and federal resources that can help you and your employees through the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s likely that stay-at-home orders and other restrictions will remain in place for a few months to come. Many businesses have pivoted to delivery or takeout to remain operational while complying with provincial and federal physical distancing orders, but obviously not all are able to do so.
We’ve created this post as a quick reference to resources and BC Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) policy changes relevant to BC liquor and cannabis licensees.
COVID-19 Resources & Relief
Although the provincial government has declared private liquor stores, cannabis retailers and producers as essential services during the pandemic 1, many businesses will struggle and will require government relief to continue operations and support employees.
The LCRB has implemented temporary policies to allow some businesses to continue operations under specific conditions. In general, the new policies are in effect until July 15, 2020.
Retail Cannabis Stores
Effective March 20, 2020, retail cannabis stores may offer non-medical cannabis product reservations online, via the licensee’s website or by phone. Reserved products must be picked up and paid for at the licensee’s place of business. Products may not be sold online or paid for by phone 2.
Licensee Retail Stores, Wine and Specialty Wine Stores, Manufacturer’s Store
Permitted hours of operation have been temporarily extended to 7 am to 11 pm. Licensees do not have to apply to extend business hours 3.
To comply with social distancing measures, delivery services are authorized to pick up, purchase and deliver unopened liquor containers to customers. Deliveries are not permitted between 11:30 pm and 7 am 3.
Liquor Primary & Food Primary
All restaurants and bars have been ordered closed by the BC government, though off-sales or delivery of packaged liquor to customers is permitted when purchased with a meal 4. Permitted delivery is in effect until July 15, 2015.
Manufacturers (distilleries) are authorized to manufacturer and/or package alcohol-based hand sanitizer for sale or for donation. Licensees must comply with all requirements for the production and packaging of hand sanitizer 5.
Laid Off Employees
The newly enacted Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is available to employees who:
- Reside in Canada and are at least 15 years of age
- Have stopped working as a direct result of COVID-19
- Who had income of at least $5000 in 2019 or in the twelve months prior to applying
- Who are expected to be without work for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week benefit period and expect to have no employment income in the subsequent benefit periods 6
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The CEWS provides eligible employers a subsidy to keep employees on payroll or rehire laid off employees. The benefit pays 75% of an employee’s wages to a maximum benefit of $847 per week per employee. 7
Income tax, sales tax, customs duty payment may be deferred.
Canada Emergency Business Account
The CEBA provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses to help cover operating costs. To be eligible, a business must have paid between $50,000 and $1 million in total payroll in 2019. Businesses may apply through banks and credit unions 8.
We’re Here to Help
Times are uncertain for business owners and their teams. Some private liquor store, on-premise businesses and retail cannabis stores in BC have had to close or pivot to delivery or pickup services. If we can alleviate some of your stress, let us know! We understand that your budget is tight and you may have questions you’d like answered. We are happy to offer a free 1-hour consultation for licensing and operational support. We’ve also created this helpful close-down checklist (PDF) for your reference, if you are facing a closure.
- “List of COVID-19 Essential Services”, BC COVID-19 Provincial Support.
- “Non-Medical Cannabis Retail Store Product Reservations”, LCRB Policy Directive 20-04 (PDF).
- “Hours of sale and delivery, liquor retail outlets”, LCRB Policy Directive 20-11 (PDF).
- “Sale and delivery of packaged liquor for off-site consumption with the purchase of a meal”, LCRB Policy Directive 20-05 (PDF).
- “Distilleries, manufacturer, packaging and sale of hand-sanitizer”, LCRB Policy Directive 20-08 (PDF).
- “Canada Emergency Response Benefit”, Government of Canada.
- “Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy” applied for via CRA My Business account, Government of Canada.
- “Canada’s Economic Response Plan”, Canada Emergency Business Account, Government of Canada.