MONTREAL -- The maximum size of a public gathering in Quebec just got a lot larger.

Starting Monday, as many as 250 people can gather at an indoor or outdoor event, a significant increase from the 50 people previously authorized to do so.

It's still not the time to throw a massive house party, though: This new rule applies only to public places and not to indoor and outdoor gatherings at private residences or chalets, which continue to be limited to 10 people.

"We took into account the experience of the last few weeks when the limit was set at 50 people. We noted that operators were diligent about implementing the various measures required to ensure the safety of operators, workers and the public," said Richard Massé, a strategic medical advisor for Quebec's public health agency.

Massé said that public health officials analyzed the situation and determined they could increase the limit on crowd sizes.

People must, however, maintain the established hygiene rules and instructions, particularly when it comes to physical distancing, public health officials stressed.

"Everyone's cooperation, particularly through physical distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask or face covering when required, is essential to ensure the success of this new stage."

The increase to 250 people will apply to performance halls, theatres and cinemas across Quebec, and to members of the public attending a production, video shoot or show recording.

If standing, audience members must maintain a two-metre distance between them. People over the age of 12 should also wear a mask when moving about, unless they have a special medical condition.

When audience members are seated, physical distancing can be lessened to 1.5 metres, and will not apply to people from the same household. Seated spectators will be able to remove their mask, but they must put it back on when moving around.

The increase in seating capacity to 250 people is also aimed at indoor amateur sports training or events, as well as places of worship, courtrooms and rented rooms, including community halls.

"It remains essential we pool our efforts to promote a safe reopening along public health guidelines. It is only if we follow the guidelines that we can once again appreciate the cultural activities that help shape our pride and identity," said Culture and Communications Minister Nathalie Roy.

Festivals and other major events will remain prohibited until Aug. 31 due to a significant risk of virus transmission. 


The Canadian Federation of Independent Business was quick to respond, saying it's pleased with the plan, but it doesn't guarantee profitability.

"Just because 250 people can get together doesn't necessarily mean it will happen. This requires a certain amount of organization in order to respect public health directives," said Gopinath Jeyabalaratnam, a senior policy analyst at the CFIB.

Jeyabalaratnam said events of that size take time to organize, and the opportunity has already been lost for some businesses.

"In the case of reception halls, several weddings and celebrations have already been postponed for next year. The government will therefore need to support them so that they survive until they can get back on their feet," he said.