Provincial liquor stores in B.C. will be closing on Sundays due to staffing and sanitizing challenges brought about by COVID-19.
BC Liquor Distribution Branch spokesperson Viviana Zanocco said the change will help the organization deal with a “finite number of employees and keep up with hygiene requirements.”
The stores already switched to shortened hours last week, Zanocco noted, with Monday to Saturday hours now from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The Sunday closures will begin this week on March 29.
The enhanced hygiene measures include asking customers to bag their own alcohol, if they are using reusable bags, and installing plexiglass shields for their cashiers.
“It’s just one extra measures of protection for employees and customers,” Zanocco said of the new checkout procedures. Other measures include signs warning people to physically distance and floor markers, to show people where to stand, for checkouts.
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Although the branch has seen a drop in hospitality sector sales, as it’s not supplying many shut-down bars and restaurants, Zanocco said business is booming.
“Our sales are up 40 per cent this month,” she said, noting it’s an “unprecedented” increase.
The biggest spikes are for large-volume items: cask wine is up 144 per cent, spirits in 1.75-litre or larger bottles are up 153 per cent and 24-packs of beer are up 120 per cent.
Zanocco said although store hours and days may be limited throughout the COVID-19 crisis, not to fear that stores will close fully: BC Liquor Stores have been deemed an essential service by the province.
“Supply is very, very steady,” she said.