Coronavirus: B.C. liquor stores reduce hours and could limit number of people in the store in wake of pandemic

B.C. liquor store employees among those who may be going on strike. Global News

B.C. liquor stores have reduced their hours amid novel coronavirus concerns.

Provincially run stores will remain open for business but effective today will be open to customers from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday to Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The reduction is hours are being put in place to support and protect our staff.

“In some communities BC Liquor Stores closed earlier than 7p.m. They will continue to close at the same time, but open at 11 a.m.,” reads a statement from the Liquor Distribution Branch.

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BC Cannabis Stores will reduce hours starting on Friday. Customers will be served from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays to Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

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“Also as part of the ongoing response to COVID-19, all stores will be practicing social distancing of at least one metre, effective immediately. This means Sales Associates and Cannabis Consultants will maintain a one metre distance from other employees and customers, and will encourage customers to keep a one metre distance from one another while they await service at the till,” the statement reads.

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In order to ensure those rules are followed, the province will also be limiting the number of people in the store. Restrictions will be based on the size of the store, and each site’s fire plan.

“Our highest priority is the health and safety of those that are most vulnerable, our employees and customers. To that end we will continue to take whatever steps are necessary and follow the direction of the Provincial Health Officer,” the statement reads.

In Kelowna, customers arrived at the B.C. liquor store at the Mission Park Shopping Centre after 9:30 a.m., which is the typical opening time, only to be met with closed doors.

On Wednesday, the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch issued a statement saying there are no plans to close stores at this time.

“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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There have been concerns raised from B.C. Liquor Store employees about crowds in the store and the inability to distance themselves.

The stores have increase cleaning and disinfecting of all workplace and customer areas, and encouraging enhanced personal hygiene practices, in accordance with advice provided by the Provincial Health Officer.

Concerns have also been raised by employees about handling returned bottles and cash in the store.

“Following concerns raised by BC Liquor Stores employees about the handling of empty containers and cash, the LDB consulted with the office of the Provincial Health Officer and was advised that the risk of viral transmission when handling empties and money is extremely low,” reads a statement from the Attorney General’s office.

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