It’s official: alcoholic drinks to take out from restaurants and bars in Ontario are here to stay

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Booze to go is officially here to stay in Ontario.

As The Star first reported on October 7, the Progressive Conservative government is making permanent a temporary pandemic measure allowing restaurants and bars to sell beer, wine and spirits to take out.

Attorney General Doug Downey said on Wednesday the long-awaited decision was aimed at helping businesses struggling amid the pandemic.

“Ontario’s vibrant hospitality industry and its workers have been hit hard by COVID-19 in communities across our province,” said Downey.

“We are building on the steps we took at the start of the pandemic to support local restaurants, bars and other businesses by providing ongoing help to workers and small businesses facing these ongoing challenges,” he said. .

It is, in fact, the most radical liberalization of Ontario’s alcohol laws since prohibition ended in 1927.

“Local restaurants and bars are essential to community life in this province,” said Downey.

“We are taking action to provide more opportunities for Ontarians to directly support their local communities when and how public health guidelines permit.

Downey said the government was removing restrictions so alcohol could be delivered in food boxes and meal kits and allowing distillers, wineries, cider makers and brewers to deliver their own products and charge a fee for doing so.

Restaurants and bars will also be able to offer mixed cocktails and beer growlers as part of take-out and delivery orders.

In addition, wineries and distillers will be permitted to sell Ontario produced and grown wines and locally produced spirits at farmers’ markets.

A campaign research poll conducted for The Star in June found that about three-quarters of Ontarians, or 73%, prefer to allow restaurants and bars to offer take-out alcohol.

Only 16 percent opposed the unlicensed sales, which have been in effect since March 26 after a suggestion to Premier Doug Ford by Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, while 12 percent had no opinion.

Downey said commercial boats at the dock with a liquor license would be allowed to serve take-out alcohol.

But identity verification, Smart Serve training, and not serving drunk people will be mandatory.

The minimum price for spirits consumed in restaurants and bars will be reduced to match the lower price that went into effect for take-out orders in March.

The government is making it easier for the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which oversees liquor sales, to extend the duration of temporary patio extensions.

Tom Mungham, chief executive officer and registrar of the AGCO, said the regulator was trying to help businesses and consumers “while protecting the public interest.”

“The focus of the AGCO on providing strong and effective regulatory services includes seeking every opportunity to reduce the burden, simplify the rules and provide greater flexibility,” Mungham said.

In October, Associate Minister of Small Business Prabmeet Sarkaria announced the Main Street Recovery Act to legislate cut red tape to boost the hospitality industry.

Since the rules were relaxed last spring, thousands of businesses have embraced the European style of direct selling to the public.

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In downtown Toronto, many of the city’s restaurants and bars are now bottle shops.

Typically, a $ 20 bottle of Liquor Control Board of Ontario wine, which would normally cost $ 60 on a takeout restaurant menu, sells for $ 30 a takeout bottle.

Since the LCBO controls all wine and spirits distribution, the provincial treasury may not take it.

Robert Benzie is the bureau chief of Star’s Queen’s Park and a journalist covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie
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