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Quebec Passes Law Allowing Restaurant Customers to Drink Without Eating

A newly-passed bill changes a host of rules for restaurant and bar owners

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Quebec’s provincial government has passed a law lightening a range of restrictions around serving alcohol for restaurants, bars, and other organizations.

Bill 170 was passed Tuesday, and will allow establishments with restaurant permits to sell alcoholic drinks without requiring customers to purchase food. Quebec’s restaurateurs association (ARQ) welcomed the change, deeming the laws to be “from another era”.

Given the reaction, the new rules should please restaurateurs — the “no drinking without eating” rule could be seen as a source of confusion, causing headaches when customers (especially those from outside Quebec) did not understand that even a single glass of wine or beer in a restaurant needed to be accompanied by food — to say nothing of the general uncertainty about what constituted an acceptable amount of food to serve alongside such drinks.

It’s not yet clear when the new law will take effect — but it wasn’t the only change contained in the bill. The following new measures will start July 1 of this year:

  • Children will be allowed to stay on bar terrasses until 10 p.m. when accompanied by a parent.
  • Bars and restaurants will be able to mix batches of drinks in advance, although these can only be made on the same day they will be sold. This means drinks like sangria will no longer need to be made one at a time to fit customers’ orders.

Other provisions in the bill do not have a set start date, but include:

While the bill overwhelmingly loosens Quebec’s alcohol laws, there’s one new requirement: restaurant and bar owners will have to complete a course in the responsible service of alcohol.

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