Montreal Bar Owners Would Like to Sell To-Go Alcohol in Order to Survive COVID-19

A woman purchasing outdoor cocktails | Maksym Azovtsev/Shutterstock

Plus, a woman orders 2,160 bagels for delivery, and more news

Some Montreal bar owners are prodding the Quebec government to change alcohol retailing laws so that they can sell drinks on a takeout basis during the COVID-19 crisis.

CityNews cites St-Henri wine bar Loïc and Mile End bar Buvette Chez Simone as two venues whose owners are pushing for looser rules during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with a Loïc owner noting that the current rules could “kill off” a large part of the province’s bar sector. At present, restaurants can sell beer and wine to go, but bars are completely prohibited from opening (Loïc already had a run-in with the Montreal police in March: police stopped the venue from selling takeout meals because it holds a bar permit, not a restaurant permit).

While Ontario and British Columbia loosened their laws around takeout booze earlier in the COVID-19 crisis, Quebec hasn’t touched them at all (restaurants in B.C. and Ontario can also sell takeout cocktails, a practice that remains banned in Quebec). While restaurants and even the SAQ (which supplies bars) could also benefit from changes to the laws, bars are arguably more in need of the changes, as they’ll almost certainly be required to remain closed for longer than restaurants — however, the Quebec government hasn’t made any indications that it plans to make changes.

And in other news…

  • There might not be a reopening date yet, but good news for bar and restaurant owners in the Ville-Marie borough (which covers downtown and the Village): terrasse permit fees have been slashed to a mere $50 for summer 2020, with some venues being granted more space than in previous years, too. [Montreal Gazette]
  • There’s now a petition demanding that restaurants and bars in Quebec be permitted to reopen, courtesy of the Quebec Bar Owners’ Association and notorious Montreal bar owner Peter Sergakis. The petition, which features plenty of capital letters, is seeking some kind of limited reopening by June 1. [Journal de Montréal]
  • One Quebec union is seeking an extension for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for tourism and hospitality workers beyond its current October end date, since this is a lead-in to the traditional winter quiet season for restaurants and bars. [CTV]
  • While long lines at liquor stores might suggest otherwise, the SAQ is facing a sales slump due to coronavirus, since the ongoing lockdown means that restaurants and bars aren’t buying from the state-run liquor retailer. [Montreal Gazette]
  • A Toronto woman ordered 2,160 bagels for delivery from Mile End icon St-Viateur — the bakery’s largest ever order outside Montreal (don’t worry, they’re not all for her). [The Star]
  • YouTuber Julien Pelletier recreated Latin Quarter music venue Foufounes Electriques in the Sims. It’s very detailed. [Exclaim]

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