VICTORIA -- The B.C. government is amending regulations for independent wine stores in the province, allowing them to convert to full-service liquor stores without having to move locations.

Previously, independent wine stores were only permitted to sell wine. In lieu of being able to sell spirits or beer, stores received a discount on the wholesale price of wine.

In 2015, however, the B.C. government eliminated the wholesale discount. Independent shops were then given the option to convert to full-service liquor stores. However, if they chose to do so, the new liquor store could not be located within one kilometre of another liquor store.

“As a result, only one IWS [independent wine store] converted under the new policy,” said the B.C. government Monday.

Now, any wine store can convert to a full-service liquor store without having to move locations, even if another liquor store is already in the area.

“This reform will address the unfairness for IWS retail licensees that resulted from the removal of the IWS discount in 2015 and has been made in a manner consistent with a recommendation from the Business Technical Advisory Panel (BTAP), an industry advisory group to government,” said the B.C. government Monday.

The province now says it expects all independent wine stores to transition to full-service liquor stores.

The province says it is looking to implement other recommendations put forward by the BTAP to support businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Recommendations already in effect include allowing restaurants, bars and other members of the hospitality industry to purchase alcohol at wholesale prices.

Previously, businesses in the hospitality industry were paying full retail costs for liquor.