BC bars expect record St. Patrick's Day as COVID-19 rules ease

Mar 14 2022, 4:05 pm

A Vancouver liquor industry spokesperson expects this year’s St. Patrick’s Day could bring record sales to BC bars and nightclubs as COVID-19 restrictions ease after two years of stifling the party.

BC lifted its mask mandate Friday, a move that restaurant and bar industry representatives say signals that the pandemic is less of a threat than before.

“We’re jumping for joy, particularly heading into St. Patrick’s Day, which is typically one of our biggest days of the year,” Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees, told Daily Hive.

The get-togethers and partying that makes St. Patrick’s Day a moneymaker for bars haven’t been allowed for the past two years. In fact, in March 2020, Vancouver shut down all bars and restaurants at the last minute to prevent mass gatherings in the downtown core. In 2021, BC banned liquor service after 8 pm for St. Patrick’s Day.

But this year is different. Patrons can once again mix, mingle, and order alcohol until 2 am — all without a mask.

“We’re expecting a record St. Patrick’s Day this year,” Guignard said. “It’s going to be a massive party.”

According to Guignard, most businesses in Vancouver’s hospitality industry have either been losing money, barely breaking even, or having a profit margin of less than 2% for the last two years. In addition, he said 15% of hospitality businesses didn’t make it through to the pandemic’s two-year anniversary.

“We were hit first; we were hit hardest. And we’ve always known we’ll be among the last to recover,” he said. “But with finally removing these last restrictions, it’s a mental shift. Everyone feels like we’re out of this.”

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