A last minute restriction on the sale of alcohol on New Year’s Eve by B.C.’s provincial health officer has left many business owners and customers scrambling to adjust their holiday plans.

Grant Turner, co-owner of the Yates Street Taphouse in downtown Victoria, says the one-day health order that prohibits the sale of liquor past 8 p.m. on Dec. 31 is an unwelcome development, but not an unexpected one.

Turner says his first thought when hearing about the new health order was “Wow, how much more?”

“It adds up very quickly,” he said. “Every time something like this comes, especially at the last minute, it’s just an immediate kick to the pants.”

While restaurants and establishments that offer meal services are allowed to stay open past 8 p.m., places where meals aren’t served must close early on New Year’s Eve.

The development means that the Yates Street Taphouse had to tell late night employees that their shift had been cancelled.

“A full shift got cut,” said Turner. “All our night people got cut.”

The move affected everyone from cooks, to bartenders, to servers, to hosts, says Turner.

Meanwhile, the taphouse’s New Year’s Eve celebration plans had to be pulled. The co-owner says the pub had planned to celebrate the New Year at 9 p.m., when the proverbial ball dropped in Eastern Canada, before the pub had to close at 10 p.m.

Now, with the health order shifting last call to 8 p.m., the plan had to be tossed out the window.

“We couldn’t really make it an event, because we’re not allowed events, but we were going to do something fun with the people that were here,” said Turner.

It’s currently unclear how the health order will affect business at the taphouse on New Year’s Eve. Turner says that the financial hit can only be calculated early next week once all receipts for the day have been compiled.

Despite the disappointing and sudden health order being issued across B.C., Turner says the taphouse will take the next 24 hours in stride, and encourages Victorians to visit and celebrate the new year in early January instead of solely on Dec. 31.

He adds that a silver lining to the health order is that it is only in effect for one day.

“Let’s be positive about it, it’s all we can do,” said Turner. “Being negative, there’s too much negativity, it takes too much energy that way.”

Sonia Nairn, a customer at the taphouse on Dec. 30, says she understands why the liquor restriction is in place, but agrees that it’s a disappointment for businesses and people looking to celebrate in a safe way.

“It’s a little bit disappointing – obviously, as a customer – because we would like to have a glass of champagne to celebrate the New Year,” she said. “But then it’s also understandable because obviously we’re in a pandemic and cases are quite high.”

“I do understand that it must be very difficult for businesses because they’re already suffering as it is and they depend on these kinds of nights. People can play by the rules and do a social distance New Year’s Eve and finish at 10 p.m. so I can see from their point of view it is very disappointing,” she said.