TORONTO — Restaurants and bars in Ontario will temporarily be allowed to sell alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders as part of new measures meant to help businesses and residents weather the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced Thursday the new rule applies to bars and restaurants that already have a liquor licence, and takes effect immediately. It will remain in place through the end of the year.
Beer, wine and liquor can also be sold for takeout or delivery through a third party, such as a food delivery service or app, as long as it is acting on behalf of a licensed establishment, the commission said.
But the holder of the liquor licence is responsible for making sure no alcohol is sold to anyone under 19 or who is already intoxicated, it said.
The commission said the licence holder or staff carrying out the delivery, including third-party agents, must have completed Smart Serve training.
Agents who do not yet have that certification can start delivering now as long as they complete the training by April 25, it said.
There is no limit on the quantity of alcohol that can be purchased for takeout or delivery, but the drinks must be sold in sealed and unopened containers, according to the rule, which also states such sales must take place between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Grocery stores and liquor manufacturer retail stores are also temporarily allowed to sell alcohol as early as 7 a.m. to accommodate early shopping programs for vulnerable people.
Earlier this week, the provincial government ordered all businesses it deemed non-essential to close in order to help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The province permitted restaurants and other food service facilities to remain open only for delivery and takeout.
Meanwhile, all active liquor, gaming and cannabis licences, authorizations and registrations will automatically be extended by three months, the AGCO said.
Those for horse racing will be extended by a year, given that horseperson licences renew on a person's birthday, it said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 26, 2020.
Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press