Restrictions in place to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 are important and necessary to contain the threat. These restrictions change our day-to-day life. It is equally important for government to review provincial regulations to ensure businesses can responsibly operate as close to normal as possible under the circumstances.
Residents on Prince Edward Island enjoy the option to brew their own alcohol through “ferment-on-premise” facilities located across the province. However, with physical distancing and gathering restrictions in place, it is no longer feasible for customers to brew or bottle their own alcohol. This means Islanders are being denied a source of product the province has determined to be essential, and small businesses are unnecessarily prevented from continuing to earn an income.
Under the Liquor Control Act Regulations, customers are required to be central to the brewing process, and it prevents a “ferment-on-premise” operator from bottling or delivering the product to the customer.
The model used by “ferment-on-premise” businesses requires customers to add yeast to their brew kits and to bottle the product 35-40 days later. Denying customers this ability means the business is unable to move customer’s product out the door and hampers the business’s ability to continue operations. Furthermore, after restrictions are lifted, it will take an additional 35-40 days for businesses to begin earning income through this model. This creates a heavy financial barrier for the business to overcome.
There is a simple solution to this issue that will enable the customer to access their product and allow the business to remain operational. This can be done by amending the existing regulations, specifically section 50.8 of the Liquor Control Act Regulations, to permit the operator to fulfill the brewing responsibilities of the customer, bottle, and deliver the product to the customer when a state of public health emergency has been declared.
This amendment will respect the public health order to observe and maintain physical distancing directions, provide an essential product to Islanders, and allow “ferment-on-premise” operators the means to continue operation during the pandemic.
I respectfully ask the Minister of Finance, who is responsible for the Liquor Control Act Regulations, to put forward an amendment to the regulations to permit this service and to help Island businesses remain viable during this crisis.
Michele Beaton, MLA
April 14, 2020