A very Quebec reopening: expect terrasses back in June, restaurateurs say
UPDATE: Read the latest on Quebec's plan to reopen here
Get ready to hit Montreal's terrasses sometime in June. Restaurant owners, after a meeting with the province last week, are getting ready to welcome you then.
Details began to trickle out on Monday about the province's reopening plan, which won't be officially announced until Tuesday afternoon.
Restaurateurs say they got a bit of a heads-up last week in a meeting with provincial officials, and they heard that the reopening will likely begin by June 24, possibly with terrasses opening a little earlier than indoor dining rooms.
On Monday afternoon, Radio-Canada reported that the first date could actually come quite a bit earlier, with the province allowing terrasses open on May 28, even in red zones.
Either way, it can't come soon enough, said people in the industry, though two industry groups said they were "fiercely opposed" to the idea of opening terrasses ahead of dining rooms.
It's not profitable, and it discriminates against businesses with no terrasse, wrote the industry groups CPBBTQ and UTBQ in a release Tuesday.
Others said they're happy to see some kind of reopening in the industry, though public health needs to come first in order to make it work.
"Public health is paramount to private economy, if I can say," said Jean-Jacques Beauchamp of the Quebec Bars Association, and also the co-owner of La Chic Regal.
"I don't think it's going to happen tomorrow, but in a few weeks."
He said the meeting with provincial leaders "went very well," and he felt "the message from the industry is now being heard for the first time," he said.
"They know our position. They know what we are hoping for."
Despite the controversies, customers told CTV they're definitely on board with getting terrasses back, with one calling them "an extra space for people to come together."
Infectious disease specialist Dr. Donald Vinh said that the culture of Montreal lends itself to a relatively safe reopening, in a way.
"Montreal is a big restaurant and bar... outdoor-terrasse type of city," he said.
"We are having beautiful weather for the first time in a while. You want to be able to capitalize on that for the morale of the population."
At the same time, being outside doesn't automatically make things safe, he said.
"You don't want to do it in a way that is careless," Vinh said.
"I don't want us to get complacent and think that, okay, most adults have gotten one dose, and the weather is nice, so now let's go back out and let's frolic," he said.
"Because what we do know is that there are variants that are circulating in Quebec, some of which are adequately covered by vaccines, but again, [we] would be better covered if people had gotten their full dose of vaccination, and there's some other [variants] where we're not sure yet" if the vaccines are good at handling them.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante had a different request for citizens ahead of a reopening: vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.
"I'm definitely looking forward for the plan -- it's something that everybody's excited about," she said.
"I'm so proud that the third wave has been quite maintained [in Montreal]... though always cautious, and I invite all Montrealers to get vaccinated: this is the key."