While restaurants are busy reopening under a new set of regulations amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a city councillor is wondering if public drinking should be considered to help local businesses offering takeout options.
City of Vernon Coun. Scott Anderson raised the point during the regular meeting Monday, May 25.
Anderson pointed to the City of Penticton’s consideration of licensing specific public spaces to permit alcohol consumption during set hours as an example.
“Restaurants are constrained in who they can serve and many serve alcohol in their takeout,” Anderson said, noting he’s seen more and more people enjoying their takeout in outdoor spaces.
Anderson requested administration come back with a report on the subject.
Coun. Akbal Mund said he’s “totally against that.”
“Now that bars are opening, businesses would be losing money if people can bring their own alcohol,” Mund said. “If we’re going to do a report, let’s look at the ramifications of that and if they would potentially lose sales.”
Meanwhile, Penticton councillors are still examining the possibility of allowing for lawful drinks on the city’s beaches.
The idea to lift restrictions was first proposed by Coun. Campell Watt. Watt’s reasoning is in support of local breweries, distilleries and restaurants, while allowing people to enjoy food and drink in an outdoor setting as COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.
Penticton is home to 30 wineries, seven breweries and two distilleries.
“Staff are preparing options for council to consider allowing locals and guests to enjoy those products in our beautiful outdoors,” said Penticton’s director of development services, Blake Laven.
“If council approves the pilot, all rules of the BC Liquor Act, including responsible behaviour, still apply.”
If approved, a five-week pilot project could start as soon as June 5.
Vernon councillors voted in favour of allowing businesses to expand their areas of operation onto sidewalks and parking lots Monday, May 25. With that, council also approved a temporary pre-approval for all liquor establishments to serve in those expanded areas without additional red tape.
– with Jesse Day, Penticton Western News files