Quebec is once again relaxing public health rules across the province as the number of new daily cases of COVID-19 remains stable and a greater proportion of the population is vaccinated.
The new measures, which take effect on August 1, will allow larger crowds in various locations, both indoors and outdoors, the health ministry said in a press release on Monday.
At events where people remain seated in bleachers or grandstands, such as amateur sporting events, the capacity will increase from 100 to 500 spectators for outdoor events and from 50 to 250 for indoor events. The new reception capacity also applies to assemblies, meetings, conventions and ceremonies, including places of worship.
Stadiums and festivals will also see their capacity increase.
Outdoor venues will be allowed to accommodate up to 15,000 people – versus 5,000 – but will have to follow guidelines established for each type of event.
Inside, the capacity will be capped at 7,500 people, against 3,500 currently, each independent section being able to accommodate up to 500 people.
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Bars restaurants and microbreweries can reject the last call by an hour and will be allowed to serve alcohol until 1 a.m. However, they will have to close at 2 a.m.
Social distancing measures remain mandatory indoors and outdoors, and face coverings are mandatory in indoor public spaces.
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The announcement from the Department of Health was good news for many.
In the sports world, the Montreal Alouettes released a statement saying they were “extremely satisfied” with the decision that will allow the club to welcome 15,000 fans in its home opener on August 27. The city has not seen live football action for two years. as the pandemic prompted the CFL to cancel the 2020 season.
World-class tennis is also returning to Montreal after a two-year hiatus, with the National Bank Open, formerly known as the Rogers Cup. Organizers confirmed on Monday that they had received the green light from federal, provincial and municipal authorities to host the tournament. It plans to welcome 5,000 fans per session starting August 7.
The director of the Montreal tournament, Eugène Lapierre, thanked all levels of government.
“Their help has been invaluable and that is why we are able to host a safe tournament for everyone today,” Lapierre said in a written statement.
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However, not everyone was happy.
The bar owners association, known as the Union des tenanciers de bars du Quebec, said allowing alcohol sales for an extra hour would make no difference.
In a press release, the association explained that with the midnight deadline, customers would order sufficient amounts of alcohol to last until closing time.
What bar owners would like to see, according to the association, is a return to normal opening hours, including authorization to sell alcohol until 3 a.m.
The association argues that this is particularly critical as bars cannot operate at full capacity due to social distancing regulations.
“The risks are no more present at 3:00 in the morning than at 2:00 or 1:00 in the morning”, we can read in the press release.
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For others, however, every little bit counts and the easing of restrictions comes at the right time.
Pride week, which begins on August 9, is considered the Grand Prix of the Village district of Montreal.
“We’ve always had bad news. We were expecting good news and we are really very happy, ”said Sam Nefzaoui, owner of Mon Ostie de resto, located in the Village.
– With files from Gloria Henriquez of Global News
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