Thursday, May 23, 2024

Pandemic patios across the province will stick around this summer: BC government


It’s patio season and now, restaurants and bars in Victoria and across BC have more time to apply to make temporary expanded service areas (TESAs) permanent.

First introduced amid COVID-19 health orders, including those related to physical distancing and indoor dining, TESAs give businesses extra space to serve liquor to customers by expanding onto patios. 

TESA authorizations were set to expire on June 1st, 2022, but on Thursday the BC government announced a temporary extension to these authorizations to March 31st, 2023.

“Some local governments needed additional time to make the needed policy changes and assess applications for permanent structural changes in their communities,” said Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

“This extension will also give businesses more time to apply and prevent the risk of disrupting patio service during the busy summer season.”

BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association president and CEO Ian Tostenson is thrilled, noting many BC restaurants and bars have innovated over the past two years.

“After the pandemic downturn, this decision will take one worry off businesses’ plates. As they plan for the future, they can continue to welcome their customers in expanded service areas and benefit from the resulting revenue,” said Tostenson.

TESAs complement Victoria’s Build Back program. Launched in June 2020, the program helps local businesses expand their operating capacity into public spaces in response to public health requirements.

This past March, Victoria city council voted unanimously to send a letter to the province requesting the TESA authorization period be extended.

COVID-19 restrictions and mandates were easing at the time, but Mayor Helps found many people still weren’t comfortable going into packed restaurants. 

“Having these patio areas available … is good for businesses and also good for people who are still getting used to the new reality,” said Helps.

The BC government encourages businesses wishing to make their current TESA permanent to apply for a new permanent structural change as soon as possible.

That’s because local governments and First Nations need to evaluate structures and outdoor licensed areas before TESAs are made permanent by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the province adds.

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