Quebec bars and restaurants can operate at full capacity as of today

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Customers are separated by sheets of plexiglass when they return to restaurants on the first day after the new coronavirus restrictions were lifted to visit restaurants in Montreal, Quebec, June 22, 2020.CHRISTINNE MUSCHI / Reuters

As Quebec lifted capacity restrictions in bars and restaurants on Monday, owners hoped to regain more of the business lost when the limits were imposed more than a year ago to curb the spread of COVID- 19.

Renaud Poulin, president of the Corporation of Bar, Brewery and Tavern Owners, said while this isn’t a prepandemic return to normal, it’s good news.

“For our members, this is welcome, because it will allow them to increase capacity and resume the business that accompanies normal opening hours,” said Mr. Poulin, also owner of Resto Bar La Chope in Châteauguay, in Quebec. south of Montreal.

Hopefully it will be easier to attract employees as hours of operation return to normal, Poulin said. “A lot of companies made money from 11pm to 3am,” he said. The last 1 a.m. call that had been put in place reduced staff incomes and there was less incentive to fill shifts, he added: “More hours means more hours. employees will benefit as well, so we feel more staff will want to come back. “

Establishments that serve alcohol are now allowed to stay open until 3 a.m. – the closing time that was in place before the pandemic – and the required distance between tables has been reduced from two meters to one meter .

Reservations are no longer limited to 25 people, but each table can still only accommodate a maximum of 10 people or groups of up to three different households. Dancing and singing inside bars and restaurants remains banned across the province, and guests must show proof of vaccination before they can enter.

Restaurant owners believe it is finally their turn to reap the rewards of easing restrictions after seeing dining rooms closed in some cities, including Montreal, for eight months at the height of the pandemic and surviving thanks to a financial aid or loans, said a spokesperson for the association.

“We need these sales. Montreal restaurateurs were closed for eight months between October 2020 and June 2021 and took out loans to be able to [it out]», Declared Martin Vézina of the Association des restaurateurs du Québec.

Vézina said his group’s discussions with the Quebec government raised hopes that the restrictions lifted this week will not return. His organization said about 15% of restaurants in the province have closed permanently during the pandemic, with more to follow as federal aid programs end.

Ziggy Eichenbaum, owner of Ziggy’s Pub on Crescent Street in downtown Montreal, said it would have closed without rent assistance. He said welcoming clients until 3 a.m. would be good for the result, even with protocols in place.

“We’ll find out tonight, but it’s looking good,” Eichenbaum said. “It represents a lot of things; a lot of people were going home with the last call at 1 a.m. At least now we have a second group of people coming for a nightcap.

Still, the co-owner of Montreal’s Burgundy Lion pub would like to see the restrictions relaxed further.

“No singing, no dancing, no getting up, no mixing. I still think it’s a major problem, ”said Paul Desbaillets, co-owner of the Burgundy Lion group. “It really puts a damper on the idea that we could sing to heaven about this new look normalcy.”

While you can’t dance in a Quebec nightclub, you can cheer and drink in a crowded arena or stadium.

“No one can understand what the difference is: remember, in all the establishments we are talking about, you only entered if you have the right [vaccine] passport, ”said Mr. Desbaillets.

Meanwhile, health officials on Monday reported 497 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. Hospitalizations increased by eight, to 244, after 19 people entered the hospital and 11 were discharged. Sixty-seven people have been enrolled in intensive care, an increase of five from the previous day.

The Department of Health said 3,241 doses of the vaccine had been administered in the previous 24 hours, and the Quebec public health institute said 87.9% of residents aged 12 and over are considered to be adequately vaccinated.

Quebec has 4,415 active reported cases of COVID-19.

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