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It may be futile to look for a silver lining to a global pandemic but we can, at least, take solace in the small wins. In one such development, Premier Doug Ford recently suggested that adding beer, wine and spirits to your takeout food orders may become a permanent possibility in Ontario, even once the state of emergency is lifted.
On March 17, Ford first declared a state of emergency in Ontario, shuttering businesses, including all restaurants, cafés and bars. As the hospitality industry turned to innovative ways of generating revenue, business owners lobbied for government support. Allowing customers to order alcohol with their takeout food, illegal in pre-Covid times, was one point of contention. On March 26, the Ford government along with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced that businesses with a pre-existing liquor license would temporarily be given the green light on selling alcohol with food orders.
Associate Minister for Small Business and Red Tape Reduction Prabmeet Sarkaria has said that “restaurant owners that are using this have given us great feedback on how much of a help it’s been.”
It seems now, if Ford’s briefing on May 25 is any indication, that the temporary rule changes, set to expire on December 31, may soon become permanent. Allowing private cannabis companies to continue home delivery after the state of emergency is lifted, is also under consideration. “We’re going to have that conversation with Minister Phillips,” said Premier Ford. “There’s going to be a lot of things, as we say, the new way of doing business -- and not only in government, but in the private sector, too.”
Not only would permanently liberalizing Ontario’s alcohol laws make it easier for consumers to safely access their drink of choice, it would also mean continued support for restaurants as they struggle through these unprecedented times.