Quebec to reopen restaurants in some regions as of June 15, everywhere by June 22
MONTREAL -- Quebec is reopening restaurants in many areas of the province as of June 15.
The Montreal region, Joliette and L'Epiphanie will open a week later, as of June 22.
The announcement was made Monday afternoon by the province's food and agriculture minister Andre Lamontagne.
New health rules will require “considerable” measures from restaurants in order to safely reopen, said Lamontagne.
Labour Minister Jean Boulet said kits will be available from the government’s workplace safety board, the CNESST, including a guide of standards for hygiene rules, disinfection guidelines, social distancing and a daily checklist.
Workers must not be symptomatic to ensure there is no internal transmission, said Boulet. Kitchen staff, as well as anyone who cannot stay outside of a two-metre range from customers, will be required to wear masks and eye protection.
Boulet said public health officials are, for instance, recommending menus be displayed on screens or boards, as opposed to exchanging menus between staff and clients.
Managers will determine how many clients can be served in the restaurant inside and outside at a time, and they will need to ensure two metres of safe distancing.
Tables, chairs and menus must be disinfected between clients and anything that is touched by many people -- counters and door handles, for example - must be cleaned frequently.
Buffets must have a staff member serve food to clients.
The restaurant industry represents $14 billion in sales in Quebec as well as 200,000 jobs.
Boulet said the government is deploying 1,000 prevention agents throughout the province in addition to 450 CNESST agents tasked with awareness work, providing information and education. Those agents will be available by phone or can make visits to sites.
“We don’t want things to start again, we don’t want flare-ups," said Quebec public health official Richard Masse. “Even though things are improving, we can not let down our guard.”
Bars will not be permitted to reopen for now, said Masse.
“We know that when you go in bars late at night and you go drinking and dancing or listening to music until 2 o’clock, behaviours change,” he said.
SMALL INDOOR GATHERINGS AT HOME PERMITTED
The government also announced that Quebecers are allowed to hold gatherings of less than 10 people from three different households, said Masse. Those dates are the same as restaurants: June 15 for most regions, and June 22, for the Montreal region, Joliette and L'Epiphanie.
Each household must maintain two metres of distancing, said Masse, who acknowledged that not everyone has a home large enough to accommodate those guidelines.
People should be vigilant and disinfect areas often touched, like doorknobs, said Masse, adding that the host should keep a record of who visited in case someone falls ill so that public health officials can more easily contact trace an outbreak.
No one who is ill or who is at risk (over age 70, with a chronic condition or immunocompromised) should take part in this latest deconfinement measure.
“They should be doubly or triply cautious,” said Masse.