Sask. considering making pandemic provisions allowing restaurants, bars to sell off-sale alcohol permanent

·2 min read
During the pandemic, the province allowed restaurants that didn't previously have an off-sale licence to offer off-sale alcohol. (Neil Cochrane/CBC - image credit)
During the pandemic, the province allowed restaurants that didn't previously have an off-sale licence to offer off-sale alcohol. (Neil Cochrane/CBC - image credit)

After previously revoking the temporary provisions allowing Saskatchewan restaurants and bars to sell off-sale alcohol, the province says it is now considering making those provisions permanent.

During the pandemic, the province allowed restaurants that didn't previously have an off-sale licence to offer off-sale alcohol.

But as of July 11, all of the public health order restrictions on bars and restaurants were removed. While customers can now return to establishments without restrictions on the number of customers and tables, the removal of public heath orders also meant that many restaurants and bars were no longer allowed to sell off-sale alcohol.

This caused a stir among business owners, including Joshua McLean, who owns Homestead Bar a Vin in Regina.

"For us, it's hard to put a number on it," said McLean.

"We've been in survival mode and it was very kind of great gracious of them to allow us to do [off-sale] ... it kept us afloat. But on July 11, you know, it's not like our bank accounts magically filled back up. We have lost a significant amount of money."

McLean said the province only gave him four days notice and he's stuck with a lot of inventory. He said it will take awhile for his business to get back to normal.

"To take away an avenue for us to create some revenue, to kind of rebuild what we've lost with four days notice is unacceptable."

NDP economy and jobs critic Aleana Young echoed McLean's concerns.

"Now that restrictions are being lifted, it makes no sense to hit them with a surprise decision that will impact bottom-lines and business viability with no warning," said Young in a news release.

However, change might be on the horizon.

The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) said it is monitoring the situation.

"We recognize that the temporary changes have been well-received and are currently conducting a review to determine if similar changes should be made permanently," said SLGA spokesperson Stephanie Choma.

Choma says a decision is expected in the near future.

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