The provincial government has given bars and pubs in B.C. the green light to extend their operating hours for the bronze and gold medal Olympic hockey games Saturday and Sunday, provided no liquor is served.

The government says it wants to make it easier for fans to share the Olympic hockey experience and cheer on Team Canada, a change of heart from just three days ago, when it was throwing cold water on the idea.

In a statement announcing the change, the province says the extended hours will remain in effect regardless of whether Canada makes it to the gold medal game.

Pubs and bars will be allowed to open at 6 a.m. PT for the bronze medal game on Saturday, and may remain open through Sunday so patrons can watch the gold medal hockey game, which begins at 4 a.m. PT.

Under the temporary new rules, bars and pubs will not be allowed to serve liquor until 9 a.m. PT Saturday and Sunday and only in those establishments whose licenses already allow it. 

The government says in the interest of health and safety, unfinished liquor will also be removed from bar patrons within 30 minutes of the end of liquor service hours on those days. It says no liquor may be served or consumed after that time.

Establishments that want to extend their operating hours for the games, must let the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch know prior to noon Friday, Feb. 21 by emailing lclb.lclb@gov.bc.ca.

The government says its permission to extend bar hours for the hockey games is still subject to local municipal bylaws.