Ontario permanently allowing alcohol sales with restaurant takeout, delivery orders

Various alcoholic beverages. (Photo courtesy Can Stock Photo Inc. / draghicich)

A temporary measure that allowed Ontario restaurants and bars to sell alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders has now been made permanent.

The provincial government said keeping alcohol sale opportunities for licensed establishments will help those businesses rebuild and recover during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ontario’s vibrant hospitality sector and its workers have been hard hit by COVID-19 in every community across our province,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “We’re building on the actions we took early in the pandemic to support local restaurants, bars and other businesses by providing permanent help to workers and small businesses as they face these ongoing challenges.”

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced amendments to the Liquor Licence Act in March that temporarily let bars and restaurants sell beer, wine, and spirits, as long as they were included as part of a food order. The temporary measure was to come to an end on December 31.

“The AGCO’s focus on delivering strong and effective regulatory services includes looking for every opportunity to reduce burden, simplify rules, and offer greater flexibility,” said Tom Mungham, CEO & Registrar of the AGCO. “We’re pleased to continue partnering with the Government of Ontario to provide meaningful support to the individuals and industries we regulate while protecting the public interest.”

Other previously announced changes now being made permanent include allowing alcohol service on docked boats by operators with a liquor sales licence, reduced minimum pricing for spirits consumed on-site, and the elimination of requirements that third parties delivering alcohol for licensed establishments have a delivery license. The AGCO will also now be allowed to set the length of time for temporary patio extensions.

Those delivering alcohol and serving on boats will continue to be required to check for identification, must have Smart Serve training, and cannot sell or serve people already intoxicated.

Rules that prevent restaurants and bars from delivering alcoholic beverages in food boxes and meal kits are being removed and eligible alcohol manufacturers will be able to deliver their own products and charge a delivery fee.

Mixed cocktails and growlers will also now be allowed in restaurant takeout and delivery orders.

“Local restaurants and bars are essential to community life in this province,” added Downey. “We are taking actions to provide more opportunities for Ontarians to directly support their local communities when and how public health directives permit.”