Pandemic-prompted temporary patios could be welcome for the long term at British Columbia’s restaurants and pubs. As a first step to promised new rules, the provincial Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Board (LCRB) will extend current permission for temporary expanded service areas (TESAs) until June 1, 2022 and continue to accept applications for new TESAs until Oct. 31 of this year.
This will allow business operators to keep patios and/or other areas co-opted for hospitality services during the pandemic open during the process of obtaining LCRB approval to make them permanent fixtures. That exercise, which is projected to take up to 10 months, requires proof of compliance with applicable provincial regulations, municipal by-laws and Indigenous Nations ordinances.
“This timely announcement, and the certainty it will afford our members in the months and years ahead, are welcome news,” says Ian Tostenson, president and chief executive officer of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association.
Authorization was granted for more than 2,000 TESAs over the course of the pandemic, but not all are expected to gain permanent status since host municipalities or Indigenous Nations may have given support only as interim pandemic relief. Both those parties will also have until July 30 to voice concerns about the seven-month extension for existing TESAs, which were initially scheduled to shut down after Oct. 31, 2021.
“We have seen the hospitality industry pivot and open patios as a way to continue to welcome their customers and operate safely during the pandemic,” says Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “We remain committed to working with businesses to find innovative ways to help them thrive and grow.”