Restaurants, breweries and wineries in B.C. will soon be able to apply to temporarily extend their patio spaces, as restaurateurs and business owners begin to reopen to customers amid the pandemic.
On Friday (May 22), the B.C. government announced that the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation branch will be launching a “simplified online process” for businesses to apply to temporarily expand their patio spaces until Oct. 31.
Meanwhile, restaurants seeking to create a temporary patio will also be streamlined through the provincial process, before seeking municipal approval.
The expansion does not mean restaurants or pubs will be able to increase their overall occupancy capacity. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has recommended patio spaces be used to maintain physical distancing of two metres between tables, as outdoor spaces carry less risk of transmitting COVID-19.
“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,” Attorney General David Eby said in a statement on Friday (May 22).
“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. Henry’s directions.”
The application process will be free, and businesses will be subject to a site inspection prior to approval.
Advocates within the industry have been calling for support from the province in creating outdoor spaces in support of the hundreds of businesses that have faced steep financial losses due to the pandemic.
In a statement, B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association CEO Ian Tostenson called the streamlined process an important step towards recovering the industry.
Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.