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Anyone in British Columbia wanting to toast the end of 2020 will not be allowed to buy alcohol past 8 p.m., according to a new provincial public-health order aimed at preventing boozy revellers from further spreading COVID-19.

At a pandemic briefing Wednesday afternoon, Provincial Health Officer Bonnie Henry told reporters all alcohol sales will be banned from 8 p.m. Thursday across the province until 9 a.m. on New Year’s Day. Dr. Henry said last call is being moved up by two hours for this one night because partying has consistently contributed to the spread of the virus.

But the head of a lobby group for the province’s bars and restaurants said the order came as a surprise and will damage efforts to earn a bit of extra revenue at the end of an awful year.

Bars will have to close by 9 p.m., but restaurants can continue serving meals without liquor past that, said Dr. Henry, who added that 11 people had died of the virus over the past day and 485 new cases had been confirmed in B.C.

“I recognize that restaurants have done a really good job and it’s not people going to have a very nice meal on New Year’s Eve with their household or partner that is the problem,” she said. “We hear from restaurant and bar owners that people are usually really good at following the rules early on and then, once people start to get drinking, especially later in the evening … their inhibitions go into the wind and they are much more likely to greet other people, table hop etc.”

The 8 p.m. cut-off also applies to liquor stores and grocery stores that sell alcohol. Dr. Henry said the province doesn’t systematically collect data on how many people have been infected by the virus while drinking, but contact tracing units have linked past outbreaks and clusters throughout the year to groups of young people partying at vacation homes, bars and nightclubs.

Ian Tostenson, president and chief executive of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said bar and restaurant owners are angry they learned only Wednesday of the order, which will further batter a sector “looking forward to a little bump” in sales on New Year’s Eve.

“We’re not happy about this because all the staff was hired, all the food was ordered, all the liquor was ordered and there’s no way that Dr. Henry could not have called us earlier,” Mr. Tostenson said. “We all knew that New Year’s was coming and we would have delivered a way better plan than this.”

He said he had already talked to an upscale restaurant in Downtown Vancouver that is scrambling to reshuffle 583 guests to move up a second sitting that was scheduled to start at 8 p.m.

“Just imagine: at a time when restaurants are preparing to put on the big show for everybody in a nice way, now they’re having to phone everybody and try to rearrange everybody’s life,” said Mr. Tostenson, who added that 9 p.m. would be the perfect time for last call.

He estimated the new rules could lose the average restaurateur at least $15,000 in sales Thursday.

Adrian Dix, the Minister of Health, said inspectors with the local health authorities and the province’s workplace safety agency will be out ensuring these businesses adhere to the new rules.

The Vancouver Police Department said Wednesday it will have beefed-up patrols of Vancouver’s two main nightlife hubs and be investigating complaints of house parties across the city, with people caught hosting liable to get fined $2,300 for disobeying the provincial pandemic rules. The police also warned that people should stay inside after 10 p.m. and if they do go out, only do so with their immediate family or household.

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