B.C. permanently allows restaurants to sell alcohol with pick-up and delivery meals

This change makes permanent what had been a pilot project that was extended three times

White spot uber eats
An Uber Eats delivery driver walks into the White Spot at the corner of Granville and Drake streets – one of the restaurants that may now deliver alcohol with meals on a permanent basis | Glen Korstrom

The B.C. government has granted permanent permission for restaurants and pubs to be able to sell and deliver sealed, packaged wine, beer and spirits alongside meals.

The March 11 news comes almost one year after the province started to allow this practice, on a temporary basis, to help restaurants hit by health orders forcing them to restrict in-restaurant dining. The pilot project was originally set to expire on July 15, 2020, but it was extended three times.

“Making this authorization permanent will provide approximately 8,000 businesses with long-term financial support and certainty, and will aid in the hospitality industry’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic," B.C. Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said in a statement. 

Pre-pandemic, restaurants and pubs were were authorized to sell alcoholic drinks only for consumption in their establishments, unless they had a special endorsement on their licence.

B.C. also had a Business Technical Advisory Panel (BTAP,) consisting of representatives from the liquor and hospitality industry, which in 2020 recommended allowing restaurants and pubs to deliver alcohol with meals.

"The original 2018 report actually did not include that recommendation," said Mark Hicken, who chaired BTAP when it was created in 2017. "The recommendation for delivery of alcohol with take-out meals was a pandemic-specific recommendation – a new recommendation from the panel."

He added that given that many jurisdictions around the world allow restaurants to sell alcohol with take-out and delivery meals, the change brings B.C. in line with an emerging global standard.

The news comes about two and a half weeks after the B.C. government made permanent its pilot project to allow restaurants to buy alcohol at wholesale prices.

We continue to work with businesses to find solutions to support them as they adapt during the pandemic,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation.

“Announcements like this give businesses the flexibility they need to shift their operations for the long-term, helping them to regain stability as they navigate forward.”

Ian Tostenson, CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association was pleased with the announcement.

“The temporary change initially helped us generate sales through a new revenue stream, but making it permanent will give us continued relief from the financial hardship of the pandemic as we move into recovery," he said.

gkorstrom@biv.com

@GlenKorstrom