Restaurant and bar owners want to reopen to all who have had COVID-19 vaccine
MONTREAL -- Two groups of licensed Quebec establishments are asking Premier Francois Legault to allow bars and resto-bars across Quebec to reopen immediately, but only to people who have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
In a letter sent to the Premier on Thursday, the Corporation des proprietaires de bars, brasseries et tavernes du Québec (CPBBTQ) and the Union des tenanciers de bars du Québec (UTBQ) wrote that such a measure would bring some oxygen to the establishments which, they say, vitally need it.
The leaders of both groups, Renaud Poulin and Peter Sergakis, add that a reopening under such a condition would encourage vaccine-averse Quebecers to reconsider their decision by, they say, dangling a significant privilege in plain sight.
The letter reminds that bars have been closed almost continually for a year.
"It really seems that our industry has fallen into oblivion," the letter reads. "Our industry simply can't take it anymore!"
The signatories recognize that such a reopening will still be accompanied by sanitary measures, but they assure that the managers of the establishments are already committed to respecting them.
Cardiologist Christopher Labos says one dose of the vaccine isn't a cure-all to the restaurant industry's woes.
"A single dose of vaccine offers your good protection against the virus, but not perfect protection of the virus," adding that bars by design present an inherent risk. "By definition, a lot of people are sitting around the same table. There are a lot of aspects that are subobtimal for spreading a virus."
Poulin and Sergakis are also criticizing the Legault government for having put in place an assistance plan consisting of a system of loans to establishments affected by closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In their opinion, this plan only increases their current and future financial difficulties.
Instead, they are calling for real, sustainable grants to be made available to entrepreneurs.
A recent survey from Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies found that 58 per cent of Canadians surveyed would not feel safe until all coworkers are vaccinated.
Labos said bars should be low on the priority list to reopen.
"The first places to close will be the last one to reopen," he said.
-- with reporting from CTV News Montreal.
-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2021.