Ontario has announced it will propose to make takeout booze sales permanent in an effort to help restaurants and bars severely affected by the pandemic.
In an announcement made on Wednesday, Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction is proposing to make, what was a temporary change during the pandemic, now permanent, allowing restaurants and bars to sell liquor to go.
The Main Street Recovery Act would support “small businesses and modernize rules” in order to allow them to “innovate and meet the challenges of today”, according to an Ontario release.
In March, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced that, temporarily, licensed restaurants and bars can sell alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders.
These changes are currently effective until December 31, 2020.
The province’s proposal includes a commitment to exploring options to permanently allow licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order before the existing regulation expires,” and to permanently allow 24/7 deliveries to businesses that include retail stores, restaurants, and distribution facilities.
“Small businesses are the backbone of Ontario’s economy, and our government will always be in their corner. Through more than 100 virtual roundtables and discussions with small business owners, their employees, local leaders and economists from all over Ontario, I’ve heard directly about the extraordinary sacrifices small businesses have made to keep their employees safe, their customers confident, and their communities strong,” said Minister Sarkaria.
Sakaria said they are determined to support small businesses through this pandemic and beyond.
Minister Vic Fedeli said Ontario’s small businesses were hit hard by COVID-19, adding “but they were the among the first to step up and demonstrate the best of the Ontario Spirit by bringing forward their innovative ideas and solutions in our time of need.”
“Building on the steps we took at the outset of the pandemic to provide urgent economic relief to struggling small businesses, Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Plan will help get more and more small businesses back on their feet as we continue down the path to economic recovery together,” said Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
In any effort to save the restaurant industry from facing more difficulties, Premier Doug Ford has also made his decision to keep restaurants open, unless evidence of COVID-19 transmission due to dine-in options is shown, before shutting down restaurants.
“These are people that have put their life in these small restaurants, everything they’ve had. I have to make sure 100%, and we’ve proven before we’ll do it, but I have to see the evidence before I take someones livelihood from them and shut their lives. That’s a huge decision that ways on my shoulders and it’s tough,” said Ford on Monday.
Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, however, confirmed on Friday that 44% of COVID-19 outbreaks are linked to bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues.
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While there’s still uncertainty surrounding indoor dining, this new proposal for a permanent change to takeout booze orders may help soften part of the blow felt by local restaurant owners.