Quebec bar crackdown continues; lap dances 'already forbidden,' premier clarifies
QUEBEC CITY -- Quebec isn’t closing bars, but its crackdown on what happens within those bars continues—it’s not just karaoke but strip clubs that came under fire this week.
Quebec City police visited six strip clubs on Thursday night and say that two of them now risk being fined after officers walked in on lap dances in progress.
That’s a violation of public health rules during COVID-19, the premier clarified on Friday.
“It's already forbidden... more than that,” said Quebec Premier François Legault during a press conference.
The Quebec government officially banned karaoke earlier in the day, after a single karaoke bar, also in the provincial capital, caused an outbreak that now includes over 80 people.
That ban will affect between 500 and 600 establishments, said a provincial association representing bars and taverns. All bars also must have a customer registry to help with contact tracing.
But Legault said that one of his biggest concerns right now is something he can’t control as easily: house parties, which are being blamed for some of the worst outbreaks at the moment in Montreal, Laval and the Bas-Saint-Laurent region.
With weather turning colder, people’s socializing is increasingly moving inside, into smaller spaces, and Legault noted it would be impossible to send police into every home to check what’s happening.
He hinted, however, there could be further restrictions, saying “it's not easy” to regulate, at least “in the short term.”
Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé maintained Friday that he doesn’t believe the province is seeing the beginning of a second wave, even with a sustained rise in new cases over the last week.
He said that the threshold the province had previously marked as a critical sign of danger—20 cases per million inhabitants—has some wiggle room, and that as long as it stays between 20 and 25 cases per million, “we’re okay.”
Dubé didn’t say he was completey comfortable, however. He compared the current situation to a boiling pot and said the lid is starting to rock.