MONTREAL -- While many merchants are forced to close their doors until mid-April, the Legault government said Tuesday that small and medium-sized hardware stores may remain open following concerns expressed by the association that represents them.

The Quebec Hardware and Building Supply Association (AQMAT) was concerned that the list of essential services published the previous day only allowed supermarkets to continue their activities.

For several small municipalities and villages, “there is only one hardware store to meet the most crucial needs that citizens may have to undergo during their period of confinement,” wrote the association in a letter addressed to the Minister of Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon.

For AQMAT president and CEO Richard Darveau, the inclusion of “supermarkets outside a shopping centre” offering in particular hardware services in the list of essential services represented “discrimination against some 850 merchant-owners” represented by the group.

Tuesday afternoon, Mathieu St-Amand, press secretary to Mr. Fitzgibbon, said that the “small and large hardware stores” could remain open.

As part of an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Legault government on Monday called for a halt to all non-essential activities until April 13.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 24, 2020.