Market Update: COVID-19’s impact on British Columbia’s food & beverage sector  

Few industries in British Columbia were hit harder or faster by the emergence of COVID-19 than the food and beverage sector. On March 20, 2020 Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, in accordance with her authority under the Public Health Act, enacted a series of restrictions on the operation of bars and restaurants across the province. The effect of her orders was to limit the operation of restaurants and coffee shops to take-away food service only. For bars, clubs, or restaurants not equipped to handle take-out or delivery food service, Dr. Henry’s order meant immediate closure.

In the days that followed the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch rolled out a series of dynamic and responsive new policies to facilitate the production of alcohol-based hand santizers by BC’s brewers and distillers, and to permit food and liquor primary licensees (bars and restaurants) to include liquor sales (off sales) in their take-away food orders.

The lawyers in Owen Bird’s Food & Beverage practice group continue to monitor the situation closely. Below are links to the order of the Provincial Health Officer, and Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch policy directives related to its COVID-19 response:

  • March 20, 2020: Order of Provincial Health Officer re operation of premises at which food and beverage is sold.
  • March 21, 2020: BC LCRB Policy Directive 20-05 – Allows food primary and liquor primary licensees to sell and deliver packaged liquor for off-site consumption to patrons with the purchase of a meal.
  • March 23, 2020: BC LCRB Policy Directive 20-06 – Effective April 20, 2020 licensees must ensure all delivery persons delivering liquor with a meal from their establishment have valid Serving It Right certification. This includes both licensee employees and delivery persons from third-party delivery services.
  • March 26, 2020: BC LCRB Policy Directive 20-07 – Clarifies that liquor and food primary licensees can sell growlers of beer with take-out orders in accordance with Policy Directive 20-05.
  • March 31, 2020 – April 3, 2020: BC LCRB Policy Directive 20-08, 20-09 and 20-10 – Authorize distillery, winery and brewery licensees to use their establishments to manufacture and/or package, sell or donate alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • April 3, 2020: BC LCRB Policy Directive 20-11 – Temporarily extends the hours of liquor service for retail stores to 7am -11pm and  authorizes delivery services to purchase liquor on behalf of a customer from a liquor store or from any licensee authorized to sell in unopened containers, and deliver and sell that liquor to a customer, provided the delivery does not take place between 11:30 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Check the Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch website frequently for updates.

If you or your business needs assistance navigating British Columbia’s liquor laws and regulations, to respond to the COVID crisis or otherwise, contact Dan Coles or one of the other lawyers in Owen Bird’s Food & Beverage practice group.

You can also find more information about food and hospitality law at

Categories: Food & Beverage

Tags: food and beverage, hospitality, liquor and cannabis regulation branch, Liquor Law