Newfoundland and Labrador Provides a Lifeline to Bars and Restaurants with Liquor-Policy Changes

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ST. JOHN’S — The government of Newfoundland and Labrador is helping bars and restaurants survive the COVID-19 crisis by implementing a wholesale liquor-pricing discount, as well as other liquor-policy changes.

“On behalf of all licensed establishments, I want to thank Premier Ball and Minister Osborne for stepping up and throwing a lifeline to these mostly small businesses,” says Luc Erjavec, Restaurants Canada vice-president, Atlantic Canada. “While physical-distancing measures have been necessary to protect the health and safety of Newfoundlanders, they don’t want to see their favourite bars and restaurants disappear as a result.”

A number of the liquor-policy changes announced Friday respond to longstanding asks from Restaurants Canada, which were listed in the national association’s 2019 Raise the Bar report. Most notably, the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) has been approved to provide licensees with a five-per-cent discount on wines, spirits and ready-to-drink beverages.

Licensed establishments will also benefit from the following liquor-policy changes announced Friday:

  • Effective immediately, liquor-license fees will be waived for the 2020-21 fiscal year and any fees already paid will be refunded.
  • Legislation will be brought forward to allow for the temporary direct sale of alcohol to customers by restaurants and other licensed establishments that sell prepared meals for takeout/curbside pick-up and delivery.
  • The NLC will work with the licensee community to return general list product in an effort to help with working capital.
  • The NLC is also temporarily waiving warehousing service fees for microbrewers with annual production of 1,000 hectoliters or less for those who use the NLC’s distribution network.
  • The government has approved an increase in product-commission discounts for craft breweries, wineries, distilleries and cideries producing 1,000 hectoliters or less to 55 per cent for non-NLC distributed products.

The government has also approved a temporary regulatory change to permit ferment-on-premise operations (U-Brew) to bottle beverages for their customers, for those that started batches of wine or beer prior to the COVID-19 health restrictions. The NLC will further support businesses through its distribution-and-marketing capabilities by listing products of local microbreweries not already supported in this way.

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