Coronavirus: B.C. restaurants can soon buy discounted beer, wine and spirits

After years of frustration from the bar and restaurant industry, the B.C. government has approved a discount on the purchase of beer, wine and spirits.

Liquor licensees, including restaurants and bars, will soon be able to pay a temporary wholesale price.

Currently, restaurants, bars and tourism operators with liquor licences pay the same price as the public.

“The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic, badly hurting the more than 190,000 British Columbians who work within the sector,” Attorney General David Eby said.

“Offering a wholesale discount for licensees was something we were exploring before COVID-19, but after the onset of the pandemic we accelerated efforts in order to support these community businesses as they try to find their feet.”

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The measure will be in place from the end of July 2020 until March 31, 2021, when the program will be reviewed.

The industry has been pushing for this change since 2015, long before the pandemic.

The Alliance of Beverage Licensees in B.C. call this the most significant liquor policy change in a generation.

“This is monumental. This will help thousands of neighbourhood pubs and restaurants walk back from the brink of bankruptcy and give them a legitimate chance at surviving the COVID-19 crisis,” ABLE BC executive director Jeff Guignard said.

The COVID-19 crisis has put tremendous pressure on restaurants and pubs across the province. According to ABLE over 10 per cent of B.C.’s pubs and restaurants have already closed permanently and up to 50 per cent are at risk of closing in the next few months due to the financial impacts of COVID-19.

“This pricing change will have a direct, meaningful impact on the bottom lines of B.C.’s 8,500 pubs and restaurants—and the 190,000 workers we employ—at the exact moment when we need it most,” Guignard said.

The estimate is the change will save pubs and restaurants up to 20 per cent on the purchase of beer, wine or liquor and this would translate to about a five per cent savings that goes directly to the bottom line.

“COVID has cut revenues in half, and costs like rent, insurance, and wage rates keep going up year after year. Most of our industry is on the brink of insolvency right now, but today’s announcement gives us a glimmer of hope that maybe some of those businesses can survive after all,” Guignard said.

The industry has been pushing for this change since 2015, long before the pandemic.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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