Bars and small venues concerned about lack of reopening plan
While major theatres and cinemas are reopening at half capacity on Monday, there’s still no clear plan on when bars and small venues will be allowed to reopen, and the Diving Bell Social Club says answers are needed.
Club owner Even Johnston says local spaces like his are at the heart of Montreal’s vibrant music and art scene.
“Of course people want to be able to go to the Bell Centre, people want to be able to go and attend these great events at Place des Arts and all these festivals. But people forget that musicians or the people that are performing at these spaces got their start at small venues,” he said.
He said the struggles for his venue have been extreme since the start of the pandemic.
“In the past two years we’ve been open at full capacity a little less than a month.”
Despite not knowing when the green light will come, Johnston is preparing the club — but what he says he really needs is predictability.
“We’re not a ground level bar where we can just open and up and expect people to show up. At 50 per cent with certain degrees of spacing between tables, that’s information that we need to know as well, so even if we could open next week we need to know exactly what the rules are so we can make our bookings properly.”
Montreal mayor Valerie Plante put a similar call out to Quebec City demanding a road map for reopening the cultural sector.
“What is the plan to reopen the entire industry.?” She said. “What is the plan for the sanitary measures for the spring and for the summer?”
Yves Lalumier, head of Tourisme Montreal, says that without a plan in place, the city risks losing visitors to other destinations.
“We can’t just accept anymore, a weekly information around the future, the looking forward aspect. We need a clear vision.”
Some major events like the NHL draft — which is supposed to be held at the Bell Centre in July — are already in doubt.
“If the restrictions are still in place, we’re going to have to consider doing something else with the draft. My guess is we’ll have to go virtual again. No, I think we might go somewhere else,” said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Friday.
Plante says she trusts public health to make the right decision, but without a clear plan for reopening, she says Montreal’s reputation as a global destination is under threat.
“How do we send a strong message to everyone that Montreal will be open soon?”