With people promoting patio expansions as a way to help New Westminster eateries survive the COVID-19 pandemic, the provincial government has loosened up regulations.
The Province of B.C. announced it was temporarily authorizing the expansion of service areas, such as patios, to support physical distancing requirements and industry recovery.
"This pandemic has hit our hospitality sector hard. Our government has been working with industry on ways to support the more than 180,000 British Columbians who work in pubs, restaurants and other parts of the sector," said David Eby, Attorney General, in a statement. "Speeding up the process will help restaurants, pubs, breweries and other licensees, and give British Columbians more options for safely eating out this summer, while continuing to follow Dr. (Bonnie) Henry's directions."
To support businesses in their reopening efforts, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation branch (LCRB) will now permit food-primary, liquor-primary and manufacturer licensees, such as wineries, breweries and distilleries, to apply through a simplified online process to temporarily expand their service areas until Oct. 31, 2020.
The temporary authorizations are focused on expanding a licensed service area's footprint only and will not permit an increase in an establishment's overall occupancy. Licensees must comply with all local bylaws and liquor-primary and manufacturer licensees must also receive the approval of their local government.
There are no fees associated with the temporary expansion applications, which will be reviewed in the order they are received using an expedited approval process for faster processing times. While there will not be a site inspection prior to approval of the permit, inspectors will conduct regular compliance inspections.
"This is excellent news that will be welcomed by all of our members and by businesses throughout B.C.," said Ian Tostenson, president and CEO, B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association. "This pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for all of us, and it has been invaluable for government and industry to work together as they have, as we take these important steps toward recovery. We thank the province for its significant efforts and look forward to rebuilding together."