Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced on Wednesday that the sale and service of alcohol must stop at 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 and continue until 9 a.m. the next day.
The order will apply to bars, restaurants, pubs, liquor stores, and grocery stores, according to Henry.
“The purpose is to decrease the late night consumption of alcohol that leads to what we know can be risky behaviour,” she said, referring to parties and social gatherings—which the B.C. government currently prohibits—that could spring up, particularly in resort towns where New Year’s Eve celebrations are common.
The last minute ban by Henry was not welcomed by Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association, who said his group is “profoundly disappointed” by the timing of the new health order.
“We got to do what we got to do from a health perspective, but what I don’t understand is that there was absolutely zero consultation,” Tostenson said. “We all knew New Year’s was coming.”
Tostenson said the order is one more hit the industry has had to endure this year.
“I think this will push people over the edge,” he said. “I think a lot of restaurants won’t have enough financial power to get through to the spring.”
Restaurants, pubs, and bars are allowed to serve only up to six diners at a table and there is to be no moving between tables according to the current B.C. COVID-19 orders. Masks are to be worn when not at tables, and no events are to be held in these places.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.