The B.C. government has moved to fast-track patio expansions to help the province’s hospitality sector meet physical-distancing guidelines outlined by the provincial health officer.

The Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch is accepting online applications for “food primary, liquor primary and manufacturer licencees” to temporarily expand service areas until the end of October.

“Speeding up the process will help restaurants, pubs, breweries and other licencees, and give British Columbians more options for safely eating out this summer, while continuing to follow (provincial officer of health) Dr. Henry’s directions,” Attorney General David Eby said in a statement.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart applauded the move, saying it complements the city’s plan to expedite the approval of new patios starting June 1.

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“This type of collaboration between business, the province and local government will be key to ensuring Vancouver and B.C. can innovate and adapt quickly and responsibly, as we restart the economy,” he said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Vancouver city council voted unanimously to support easing restrictions on restaurant patios.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said that outdoor seating could be a key component in getting dine-in service up and running while maintaining coronavirus precautions.

— With files from Global News’ Richard Zussman and Simon Little

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