Canada’s two most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec, have both declared health emergencies and have ordered all non-essential stores to close.
This means most businesses in Ontario will shutter there operations for at least the next two weeks, and in Quebec the next three weeks.
This is to reduce contacts amongst people and help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus
Businesses that can remain open include such things as groceries, pharmacies, and supply chain operations. Bars for example have been told to close as they are not essential.
To the surprise of some, another type of store will stay open in the two provinces. The stores selling alcohol along with other outlets selling cannabis.
In Canada the sale of cannabis and liquor is provincially controlled. In Ontario and Quebec liquor can only be bought through provincially controlled outlets. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) stores, and the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) stores have exclusive rights to sell liquor. These outlets also sell wine and beer although Ontario has a separate provincially regulated beer store chain. In Quebec, beer and cheaper brands of wine can be bought in grocery stores and convenience or “corner” stores.
The LCBO and SAQ outlets will stay open during the health emergency with the health ministers of both provinces having said similar things about the potential for “health consequences” for some people if alcohol sales were cut off.
Although the alcohol outlets will remain open, their hours will be reduced, along with other constraints such as a limit to customers inside the stores at any one time.
Additional information sources:
- BlogTO: B. Robertson: Mar 24/20: The LCBO will remain open as non-essential businesses forced to close
- CTV; B. Boshra: Mar 23/20: COVID-19: Quebec’s alcohol, cannabis stores deemed essential, will remain open
- Global: A.S Maratta: Mar 23.20: The SAQ and SQDC remain open but ask people to shop online, respect social distancing
- LCBO corporate news statement on COVID-19