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Back in April, we posted COVID-19 relief resources for private liquor stores and retail cannabis stores that struggle to survive during a pandemic. Since then, government agencies have learned more about the impact of the current pandemic on business and have adjusted some policies, so they better fit life in the “new reality” of COVID-19. The following are the most important updates.
COVID-19 Policy Updates Affecting BC Retail Cannabis Stores
In addition to accepting non-medical cannabis reservations via phone or a retail cannabis store website (for in-store pickup and payment only), BC cannabis retailers can now sell products online or by phone for in-store pickup. Delivery is still prohibited.
Policy updates now permit BC retail cannabis stores to sell prepaid purchase cards (gift cards) in any store they own and their online store. The prior policy only allowed gift cards to be used in the store where they were sold, and online sales were not permitted.
COVID-19 Policy Updates Affecting BC Private Liquor Stores, Liquor Primary, Food Primary and Manufacturers
Restaurants, wineries, breweries, and distilleries may apply to expand their service areas until October 31, 2020 to accommodate physical distancing guidelines issued by the BC Public Health Officer. An expedited online application is available to licensees for free.
To help restaurants and pubs survive amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the BC government has announced a temporary program that allows these licensees to purchase liquor products at discounted wholesale prices. The measures are in effect from July 20, 2020 to March 31, 2021.
Read the wholesale pricing announcement.
Temporary extended hours of operation for licensee retail stores (private liquor stores), wine stores and speciality wine stores, and manufacturer on-site stores has been extended to August 31, 2020. Licensees may open from 7 am to 11 pm. Licensees are now permitted to allow delivery service to purchase and deliver liquor on behalf of customers. Delivery is not permitted from 11:30 pm to 7am.
Read the Extension of Temporary Hours and Delivery policy directive.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit Updates
Initially, those who qualified for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) could receive benefits of $500/week for 16 weeks for a total of $8,000. In mid-June, Prime Minister Trudeau announced an extension of an additional eight weeks ($500/week for a total of an additional $4,000) up to October 2, 2020. After exhausting the original benefit, you can re-apply for the CERB benefit.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Updates
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is intended to support businesses who have lost revenue as a result of COVID-19 and cannot or have difficulty paying employee wages. The measure provided eligible employers a 75% wage subsidy to reduce employee layoffs and re-hire those employees who have been laid off.
CEWS, which was going to end on August 29, was extended until December 19, 2020, and eligibility criteria has been opened up so more businesses have a safety net. Prior to the changes in eligibility, to quality, a business was required to have experienced reduced revenue of 30% or more because of COVID-19. Now, business owners who’ve experienced a revenue drop of less than 30% can still qualify. Those employers who experience a decline in revenue of 50% or more may be eligible for an additional top-up subsidy.
The types of businesses that qualify has also been expanded to include sole proprietorships, taxable corporations, some indigenous government-owned corporations, non-profits, some partnerships, and registered charities.
Income Tax Deferrals Updates
Income tax filing and payment deadlines have been extended from September 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020 for 2019 tax year individual returns, 2019/2020 corporate and trust returns, and tax installment payments.
Questions About COVID-19 Policies and Your Liquor or Cannabis Business?
If you have questions about BC Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch COVID-19 policies that are relevant to your business, contact Rebecca at Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors for a complimentary consultation.