Quebec's reversal on hotel pools re-opening for March break a blow for struggling hospitality industry
MONTREAL -- The provincial government's decision to reverse course on allowing hotel pools in red zones to re-open for March break has members of an already drowning hospitality industry even more worried.
After the government announced that pools would be allowed to re-open, many hotels pounced on the opportunity, offering up package deals to families looking for entertainment during a very unusual break.
“What better way to spend time with the family, without worrying about cleaning the house or picking up, than enjoying a nice package at a hotel?” said Glen Castanheira of Montreal Centre-Ville.
Hotels filled their pools, re-hired stuff and came up with protocols to allow families to enjoy the facilities safely.
“Families go directly from their rooms to the pools so they don't see any other families on the way, so there's very little risk,” said Greater Montreal Hotels Association spokesperson Eve Pare.
But all that careful planning was cast aside by a ministerial decree issued on Thursday that tightened public health rules. Under that decree, only municipal pools in Quebec's red zones would be allowed to re-open.
When reached by CTV News, Quebec Public Health did not offer a reason for the change.
“We already had families checked in at the hotel, some were in the pool when we found out,” said Pare. “We had to call every single family that had made a reservation for the next week to announce the pools will not be open, therefore if they want to cancel, they will be able to do it.”
Pare said many families did take up that option, leaving hotels liable for the costs it took to get their pools ready.
The change comes as many in the hospitality sector face an increasingly uncertain future. According to Pare, by the end of 2020, hotels in Montreal lost $700 million room revenue. On Friday, downtown's Hotel Le Crystal announced it would suspend operations as of Monday. In a statement, the hotel management cited a lack of tourism as the reason.
“It's always heartbreaking, it's always a difficult decision for those businesses to make, to have to suspend their operations, often because maintaining operations is more expensive than simply shutting down for some time,” said Castanheira.