Nova Scotia reverses stance on private liquor stores, which now can operate like NSLC outlets during lockdown


HALIFAX -- As customers lined up outside Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation stores, they were being turned away at one private wine store.

Bishops Cellar was open, but only for deliveries or curbside pickup as new rules imposed on private sellers prevented customers from entering stores.

"Why is a private wine store (or) a brewery considered different than an NSLC store?" said Matt Rogers the owner of Bishops Cellar.

Garrison Brewery pivoted to curbside and online orders on Thursday, but its owner knows not all Nova Scotia businesses can.

"We would like to see this reviewed and backtracked because it has real-world implications for small independent producers," said Brian Titus, who is also the president of Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia.

Titus and Rogers made their comments early in the day on Thursday, but at the afternoon's COVID briefing there was another change.

Nova Scotia reversed a decision that would kept customers out of private liquor stores during the lockdown.

"Private stores will have the same ability as NSLC," said Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia's chief medical officer of health. "People can come in up to 25 per cent of their maximum capacity."

"I don't think there was any ill-intent by any stretch," Rogers said. "Things move quickly and sometimes things need clarification or a few folks to put their hands up and say 'well, this is different than it was before.'"

Rogers likens this pandemic to a rollercoaster.

"Trying to respond to all of these changes on an hourly basis can be a challenge," he said.

He and other business owners can only hope they can hang on until it's over.