Interest in allowing alcohol in certain public places increases as COVID-19 physical distancing measures continue

Interest in allowing alcohol in certain public places increases as COVID-19 physical distancing measures continue
WatchHistorically, beaches and parks have been off-limits to those wanting to enjoy a beer or glass of wine. But because of new physical distancing rules, the argument for relaxing those bylaws is getting a boost.

Health officials say the safest place to be in this pandemic is outside, where COVID-19 is less likely to spread.

So, while beaches and parks have always been meeting places, now, they’re even more important than ever.

“The public domain is in many ways an extension of our backyards and living space, whether it’s our parks or beaches,” said Saanich councillor Zac de Vries.

But, British Columbians still can’t treat their picnic, like they would their living room. There’s no beer here.

And in light of the pandemic and the physical distancing that health and safety demands, some are saying public drinking bylaws need to change.

“I think that it would be lovely to enjoy a glass of wine at the beach with the kids and enjoy the day. One glass, two glass. That’s it,” said one beachgoer at Gonzales Bay in Victoria.

“I feel like people are doing it anyways. And I feel like most people don’t care anyway,” said a sunbather.

“If someone discreetly had a beer or glass of wine, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that at all,” mused another.

Vancouver’s city council is taking a look at two motions that could potentially change their public drinking bylaws.

So what about here on Vancouver Island?

“From my estimation, the majority of residents are really open to responsible indulgence, especially around activities like picnics,” said Saanich councillor Zac de Vries.

“It’s certainly something I’m interested in. There’s a reason it’s quite common around the world, and other municipalities in the province are exploring it. I think we should take a cautious approach going forward.”

But not all local politicians are there, yet.

“We haven’t yet turned our minds to this issue. Our priority right now is helping businesses with smooth reopening,” said Mayor Lisa Helps.

But local breweries like Hoyne Brewing company, who have been hit hard by the pandemic, say legalizing responsible public consumption may help them make up for lost revenue.

“We probably lost 50 per cent in revenue,” said Dave Dickson, who manages the South Island territory with Hoyne Brewing Company.

“A lot of lost volume with the pubs and restaurants closed for the past two months. So this would definitely, definitely help boost us.”

Right now though, before any motions are made here on the Island, all eyes are on what happens in Vancouver.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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