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BC Wine & Hospitality Industry: Public Health Order Update

There has been some confusion recently on the content and effects of the recent Public Health Orders (PHOs) that have been issued in response to the Covid19 pandemic. The following discussion attempts to alleviate some of that confusion for the BC wine and hospitality industry by setting out the contents of the actual orders and related guidance and recommendations. 

Restaurants/Bars/Lounges (including Tasting Bars)

The governing Public Health Order for restaurants, bars and lounges (including winery tasting bars) is the Food and Liquor Serving Premises Order which was issued on October 9, 2020. This PHO mandates that nightclubs must close. There are various rules for continued operation for all other premises including:

  • Customers must be seated and remain seated except to use the washroom or for initial seating. An exception is made for liquor manufacturers so winery tasting rooms can have customers who are standing at the tasting bar.
  • Appropriate separation (generally 2m) of customers or customer groups must be made. Alternatively, can use physical barriers.
  • Maximum of 6 people per group at a table or counter. No movement between tables.
  • Liquor service must end at 10 pm.
  • No dancing, singing, etc …
  • Contract tracing info for customers is required.
  • Workplace Covid Safety plan required.

The recent verbal PHO (November 19, 2020) has not significantly changed the rules for restaurants/bars/lounges. There is now a requirement for mandatory masks. See Province-Wide Restrictions page.

  • Masks required for staff and customers unless customer is seated at a table or counter (i.e. for initial seating or going to the washroom).

In respect of events, the reissued Gathering and Events Order (see discussion below) prohibits a restaurant/bar/lounge from holding any events until at least January 8, 2021. This would prevent any type of special event outside the restaurant\’s normal business such as a winemaker\’s dinner or winery sponsored tasting. I note that for the purpose of seating customers, restaurants/bars/lounges are not required to determine whether patrons reside in the same household or bubble. Indeed, the Order does not prohibit customers from different households from sitting together (although the spirit of the guidance would not encourage this except in certain cases, such as where people live alone or where they are meeting for non-social purposes such as business).

Retail Stores (e.g. On-Site Store, Liquor Stores)

The governing PHO for retail stores including on-site stores in a winery or manufacturer is the Workplace Safety Plans Order which was issued on May 14, 2020. Generally, this requires the following:

  • Workplace Covid Safety plan required.
  • Appropriate capacity planning, protective barriers and customer control measures.

The recent verbal PHO (November 19, 2020) has not changed the rules for retail stores, other than that the requirement for masks is now mandatory. See Province-Wide Restrictions page

  • Masks required for staff and customers in all indoor areas.


The recent verbal PHO (November 19, 2020) ordered that all events of any size are prohibited until at least December 7, 2020 (now extended until January 8, 2021). The definition of events is contained in the Gathering and Events Order which was revised and reissued on December 2, 2020 to reflect the verbal order. This Order effectively means that all the types of special events that a winery or manufacturer would hold are canceled until January 8, 2021. For example, weddings, celebrations, parties, auctions, fundraisers, wine tasting seminars, etc… must all be canceled. The previous 50 person limit for events has been suspended (at least temporarily) and the allowable number reduced to zero (the limit for weddings is 10 people which would eliminate most if not all \’winery weddings\’). See Province-Wide Restrictions page


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