alcohol delivery

Ontario bars and restaurants can permanently sell alcohol for takeout and delivery

Floundering bars and restaurants in Ontario can celebrate one small win this week amid a hellish year, as the province has just changed the rules surrounding their ability to sell alcohol for takeout and delivery.

After permitting licensed establishments to sell booze with food orders during lockdown back in March, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) decided to make the initially interim move permanent on Wednesday night in an attempt to provide those in the all-but-destroyed hospitality industry more of an opportunity to make a profit.

Originally, the ability for such businesses to sell sips for consumption off of their premises through an amendment to the Ontario Liquor License Act was due to expire at the end of the year.

"We're building on the actions we took early in the pandemic to support local restaurants, bars and other businesses by providing permanent help to workers and small businesses as they face these ongoing challenges," the Attorney General said in a statement yesterday.

Unfortunately, according to recent stats from Restaurants Canada, eight out of ten restaurants across the country are still operating at a loss or "barely scraping by," even with the sanction to sell drinks.

This is partly because of the fact that they're still forced to purchase beer, wine and spirits at retail prices despite buying in bulk for resale.

But, the fact that the LCBO and Beer Store won't likewise be able to sell their product for delivery through third-party apps — something that nearly came to fruition before it was met with massive backlash — should help sales at least slightly.

Bars and restaurants can also sell booze for cheaper than they used to be able to, which may perhaps improve their volume of sales, but not their profit margins.

They will still only be able to sell imbibements from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., despite their own opening hours.

But, new regulations will also give them the green light to add things like mixed cocktails and growlers to their offerings, to sell spirits and wine at farmers markets, and to charge a fee to deliver their own product if they want to reduce the high costs that come from using services Uber Eats, among other minor tweaks.

Hopefully this will all amount to at least a tiny bit of relief for the biz that has been hardest-hit by the pandemic.

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