British Columbia

B.C. allows patio expansions for restaurants, pubs, tasting rooms to help with physical distancing

The provincial government will allow certain restaurants, pubs and breweries to expand their patios so they can serve more people and bring in more revenue as B.C. continues to reopen its economy.

Province aims to help hard hit food-service industry with temporary expansions

Plexiglass barriers separate patio tables on the Bells and Whistles pub patio in Vancouver on the first day of B.C.’s Phase 2 reopening plan on May 19. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

The provincial government is allowing businesses like restaurants, cafes and breweries to make their patios bigger so they can serve more people at a proper distance, as B.C. reopens its economy.

A statement Friday said food-primary, liquor-primary and manufacturer licensees, including breweries, wineries and distilleries, are now allowed to apply to expand their service licence to include a larger area.

The statement said businesses will be able to apply with "a simplified online process" through the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation branch (LCRB) with no extra fees. Local governments must also grant their approval.

The expansion approval will last until Oct. 31.

The government noted the wider service area will not mean the business's occupancy level can rise. Businesses are meant to use the extra area to properly space out their customers with physical distancing.

"While there will not be a site inspection prior to approval of the permit, inspectors will conduct regular compliance inspections," the statement said.

The food service industry has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic, due to take-out only restrictions under the provincial health officer's orders. A number of industry leaders and local politicians have pushed for expanded patios to help businesses as they look to recover.

"This is excellent news that will be welcomed by all of our members and by businesses throughout B.C.," Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association wrote in a statement Friday. "This pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for all of us."

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said he was "very pleased" with the province's decision, adding city staff are working to expedite the approval of new patios starting June 1.

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