(Hotel Grand Pacific)

The provincial government announced on Friday that it will be extending temporary measures allowing expanded service areas at restaurants and bars, such as patios.

Expanded spaces for alcohol service were authorized in May 2020 in response to COVID-19 restrictions, which called for physical distancing between restaurant patrons.

The measures were set to expire on October 31, 2020, and have been extended until October 31, 2021.

Establishments that were already licensed under the new rules for expanded spaces will automatically have their licenses extended under the new expiry date.

New applications for authorization of an outdoor or expanded service space will be considered until Oct. 31, 2021, and will need approval from local governments.

Victoria Council voted Thursday to endorse an extension of the City’s “Open Air Recovery” supports for restaurants and cafes with expanded patios.

In debate on the issue, which will receive further debate in October, Mayor Lisa Helps said some businesses have indicated they wish to continue operating patios throughout winter time.

“I think if it’s extended, it shouldn’t, in my opinion, close down for the winter and open up back in spring,” said Helps.

“Hopefully staff can turn their minds to those businesses that may wish to continue to operate their patios even throughout winter time and how we can facilitate that.”

The province also extended an authorization that allows the licensees to sell and deliver sealed, packaged liquor products alongside the purchase of a meal for off-site consumption.

This authorization was set to expire on Oct. 31 and has been extended to March 31, 2020.