December 30, 2021 – As the latest wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) Compliance Officials will be out on New Year’s Eve visiting bars and restaurants in communities across the province to ensure they are complying with provincial public health requirements.
On December 19, 2021, the Government of Ontario introduced public health measures in response to the spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant. These measures include a 50 per cent capacity limit in restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments and strip clubs. In addition, these establishments cannot sell alcohol after 10 p.m., and must close by 11 p.m.
Liquor licensed businesses have an important role to play in keeping communities safe and the hospitality sector open. Although the vast majority of Ontario’s licensed establishments have been operating responsibly throughout the pandemic, the AGCO has had to take regulatory action against a number of establishments that have not, including the suspension or revocation of their liquor licence.
“I want to thank hospitality sector owners and staff for doing their part to support public health measures for the safety of their customers, staff, and their communities. As the countdown to New Year’s Eve approaches, anyone considering heading out to a bar or a restaurant should be aware of all public health measures in place, and not give establishment staff a difficult time for enforcing them. And please remember, don’t drive while impaired. Let’s all have a safe and enjoyable night!”
Tom Mungham, Registrar and CEO, AGCO
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the AGCO has been focused on implementing government policies and AGCO-driven regulatory changes that help support and ease the burden on liquor licensed establishments, including:
Permanently allowing restaurants and bars to sell alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders, including mixed cocktails and growlers.
Allowing licensed grocery stores to offer curbside pickup of beer, wine and cider.
Giving licensed establishments and retailers more flexibility in using liquor delivery services.
Reducing the minimum price of spirits consumed at licensed establishments to align with the reduced pricing introduced for takeout and delivery orders.
Extending the length of time for temporary patio extensions.
Permitting alcohol service on docked boats with a liquor sales licence.
Streamlining licensing and renewals for businesses through a single primary licence with endorsements for additional activities, such as on-site retail stores or brew pubs.
Creating a printable poster that clearly outlines vaccination ID requirements and calls out bad behaviour directed to licensees and their staff.
About the AGCO
The AGCO is a regulatory agency of the Government of Ontario with a governing board that reports to the Ministry of the Attorney General. The agency was established on February 23, 1998 under the Alcohol, Cannabis and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act, 1996.
The AGCO is responsible for regulating the alcohol, gaming, horse racing and private cannabis retail sectors in Ontario in accordance with the principles of honesty and integrity, and in the public interest.