Quebec bars to be allowed to fill to capacity as of Nov. 1
By Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:waseCOVID-19 Updates News Business and Operations Health & Safety
Quebec City – The Quebec government moved to quell nervous restaurant owners’ concerns Tuesday over COVID-19 restrictions, saying that restaurants and bars will be allowed to operate at full capacity by Nov. 1, just in time for the lucrative holiday-party season, just a few weeks after the government ruled the Bell Centre could fill up to its full 21,273-person capacity for Canadiens games and concerts.
“The vaccination passport allows such flexibility in cases where the risk of transmission is higher,” said a statement from Health Minister Christian Dubé’s office earlier this week. “In other cases, minimum distancing and basic preventive measures remain essential. We are moving cautiously toward a return to normality, but caution is in order. ”
Normal operating hours will also be allowed, meaning bars can stay open until, and serve alcohol, until 3 a.m.
Vaccine passports and photo identification are still required to be seated at a restaurant or enter a bar. Some restrictions are still in place – including one that may undo a lot of holiday parties, which is tables are limited to a maximum of 10 people from three different households, maximum.
Masks must be worn when moving around the establishment, and if a distance of a metre cannot be maintained between tables,
Last week, the president of the Nouvelle Association des Bars du Québec (NABQ) said the government’s previous policy made little sense, given the idea that Bell Centre spectators were jammed in together far more closely than in a restaurant.
NABQ president Pierre Thibault said in a statement that it makes little sense to allow 22,000 people to sit side-by-side in the Bell Centre, with “10 centimetres of distance between them.”
“We should also allow restaurants and bars to accommodate the permitted capacity of their establishments and to close at 3 a.m.,” he said.
Bars have been limited to 50 per cent of the maximum capacity provided for in their liquor licence. Restaurants have been forced to keep tables two metres apart.
Bars and restaurants are currently allowed to serve alcohol until 1 a.m. and bars must close by 2 a.m. under the current rules.
Now that restrictions are easing up, Thibault said on Thursday, his group is optimistic, despite the staffing issues plaguing the hospitality industry in many corners of Quebec.
“It is clear that the workforce is an issue, but I have the impression that things will be better under these conditions,” he told Radio-Canada. “We had difficulty keeping the employees because it was short term, and we couldn’t work full-time schedules.”
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