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It took a pandemic to relax outdated liquor laws

Ada Slivinski: Was allowing delivery apps to include liquor really such a big deal?
Yes, I’m over 19.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve faced a lot of rules and restrictions. One thing that has relaxed, however, are outdated regulations around liquor sales.

Prior to the pandemic, or the “before days” as they’ve been dubbed, restaurants were not permitted to sell liquor through their delivery partners. Now, British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Quebec have all temporarily relaxed their liquor laws to allow restaurants to move through their liquor inventory and help with cash flow during unprecedented forced closures.

Multiple states in the US have quickly moved to relax their liquor laws as well.

It seems that the concept of wine and beer to go has taken off. As people order food online, and attempt to limit in-store visits, alcohol delivery just makes sense. And if the purchase is supporting your favourite local joint? That’s a bonus.

The other night, I ordered a bottle of wine through Skip the Dishes from one of our favourite local restaurants. Soon after, a message popped up on the app, telling me to “be prepared to show my ID at a safe distance.” (Exactly how they planned to verify my age that way, I have no idea.)

When the driver arrived, he took one glance at my messy house and rambunctious children, and just dropped the bag on our doorstep.

With enforcement of social distancing at the forefront, it seems the one thing city staff patrolling parks and beaches seem to be turning a blind eye to is the odd open beer.

Much of this more relaxed attitude should stay put after we come out the other side of this pandemic. For restaurants, margins are exceptionally tight at the best of times; the blow from the shutdown will take months, if not years, to recover from. They will need all the help from us they can get.

On the consumer side, it’s time for the province to treat adults like adults. The risk is that some underage kids order a few cases of beer and get into trouble – but it’s not like this wasn’t happening before. And technology for age verification can, and likely will, evolve quickly.

It’s impossible and unnecessary to put the genie back in the bottle after all this is over. The odd thing is that it took a pandemic with most of us staying at home to change the way alcohol is purchased and consumed.