VICTORIA -- The temporary law allowing restaurants and bars in British Columbia to sell and deliver off-sales liquor to customers during the COVID-19 pandemic is now permanent.

The B.C. government announced Friday that its authorization allowing liquor-primary and food-primary businesses to sell and deliver sealed alcohol products with food orders for off-site consumption will remain in perpetuity.

"At the beginning of the pandemic, our government took swift action to support the food and beverage sector by making many temporary changes to help keep businesses afloat in a rapidly changing environment," said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in a statement Friday.

"Making this authorization permanent will provide approximately 8,000 businesses with long-term financial support and certainty, and will aid in the hospitality industry's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Farnworth added.

Prior to the pandemic, B.C. restaurants and pubs could only sell liquor for consumption at the establishments unless they had a special endorsement on their licence.

The rule was changed in March 2020 to allow off-site sales and delivery with the purchase of a meal.

The government has since extended the temporary authorization three times in response to demand among the restaurant industry.

The province says identity checks for customers and Serving It Right certification for delivery drivers will continue to ensure safe and responsible liquor sales.

“We continue to work with businesses to find solutions to support them as they adapt during the pandemic," said B.C. Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon in the statement. "Announcements like this give businesses the flexibility they need to shift their operations for the long-term, helping them to regain stability as they navigate forward."

This is the second liquor-related temporary authorization the province has made permanent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In February, the government made permanent an authorization allowing restaurants, bars and tourism operators to purchase alcohol products at wholesale prices.

"Since the beginning of the pandemic, we've had to make huge adjustments to our businesses, shifting to a takeout and delivery-focused business model to ensure we could continue to operate under the provincial health officer's guidelines," said Ian Tostenson, president and CEO of the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association, in the statement.

"The temporary change initially helped us generate sales through a new revenue stream, but making it permanent will give us continued relief from the financial hardship of the pandemic as we move into recovery," he added.