Restaurants, wineries and craft breweries will see some help from the provincial government when the House of Assembly opens on Tuesday.
Finance Minister Tom Osborne and newly minted Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corp. (NLC) CEO Bruce Keating announced seven measures totalling approximately $1.2 million in value to help the hospitality industry through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Once legislation is passed in the House of Assembly during a one-day sitting on Tuesday, anyone ordering food to be delivered to their homes can order alcohol with their meal. Breweries and wineries will also be able to deliver to homes as part of the change. Osborne says the move is temporary, for as long as the COVID-19 pandemic remains.
“These changes will complement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses that was announced last week by the federal government,” says Osborne.
“This program will provide support to commercial property owners and eligible small business tenants, many of which are operators of restaurants and bars who are experiencing financial hardship.”
Consumers will be unable to order alcohol for delivery directly from bars that do not sell food.
Keating says the NLC recognizes the challenges the hospitality industry faces during the pandemic.
“Between ourselves and government, we really wanted to put something together that would have an impact on the sector,” he said.
“They are a very important part of how we exit, coming out of the economic downturn that we’ve experienced because of the crisis.”
As well, the NLC is waiving liquor licensing fees for the 2020-21 fiscal year for restaurants, bars and any other establishment with a liquor licence. Osborne says the measure will save those businesses $700,000, collectively. Any businesses that have already paid those fees will see a refund.
Discounts for bulk wholesale purchases have also been introduced for wine, spirits and ready-to-drink beverages.
Craft breweries will also see support, as the government increases the commission discount from 50 to 55 per cent on the first 1,000 hectolitres.
Warehousing service fees for small craft breweries are also waived for breweries producing less than 1,000 hectolitres.
Luc Erjavec, vice-president for Atlantic Canada with Restaurants Canada, says the industry is thankful for the changes.
“On behalf of all licensed establishments, I want to thank Premier (Dwight) Ball and Minister Osborne for stepping up and throwing a lifeline to these mostly small businesses,” Erjavec said in a statement
“While physical distancing measures have been necessary to protect the health and safety of Newfoundlanders, they don’t want to see their favourite bars and restaurants disappear as a result.”