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B.C. provincial liquor stores still open amid coronavirus outbreak

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The B.C. government is keeping provincial liquor stores open as concerns continue around the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch says its priority is the health and safety of their employees and customers, and they’re taking steps, such as increased cleaning, to stem further transmission of COVID-19.

“At this time, we have no plans to close stores or our distribution centres. And we continue to take our direction from the Provincial Health Officer and recognize that the situation is changing quickly,” reads a statement to Global News.

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Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry is continuing to push British Columbians to practice social distancing and remaining six feet apart while in public areas like liquor stores, grocery stores and other retailers remaining open.

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Private liquor stores are making decisions on an individual basis. Changes at private stores could include reduced hours, reduced staff and potentially closures.

“BC’s private liquor stores remain open for business during this unprecedented crisis,” The Alliance of Beverage Licensees Executive Director Jeff Guignard said.

“The health and safety of our customers and employees is our highest priority, and every store is implementing proactive measures recommended by public health to keep everyone safe.”

Private liquor stores have implemented more frequent processes for the cleaning and disinfecting of common and customer facing areas and equipment and are ensuring the consistent and proper hand-washing by all of our employees.

All retailers are encouraging customers to respect one another’s personal space and practice social distancing while waiting in line and maintain a physical buffer of two metres from others, where possible, to slow the spread of illness.

All tastings and special events at private liquor stores are cancelled until further notice.

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Henry announced plans on Tuesday to close all bars and clubs in the province as she directed gatherings to be capped at 50 people.

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The B.C. government is in the midst of preparing clear regulations for restaurants if they wish to reopen.

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