MONTREAL -- A major part of Verdun's Wellington St. Will is now pedestrian-only, part of Montreal's plan to encourage residents to get out of the house while abiding by physical distancing recommendations.

The street is shut to car traffic from Hickson to 4th Ave., a situation that will continue throuhgout the summer.

“We just try to provide a safe area for consumers and also for merchants and their employees,” said Wellington merchants's association general manager Billy Walsh.

Walsh pointed to long lines outside of some stores as a reason why the street needed more room for pedestrians.

“The worst case scenario would be to come back with the closure of the commerces around October or November on a second wave (of COVID-19),” he said. “We want to avoid the second wave and I think we do our job to provide it.”

The city plans to install seating and umbrellas to make the space more inviting for shoppers in the coming weeks.

“All of these things, we'll be able to look at it and adjust as quickly as possible,” said Verdun city councillor Sterling Downey. “The goal here is to give merchants the opportunity to bounce back from the last three months of being closed.”

While the closure does eliminate parking spots in the area, Walsh said there are still places to leave a car on side streets and in parking garages.

“I think it's damned if you dont, damned if you don't,” he said. “We prefer to be on the side of trying something or doing something. If we realized after a few weeks that we were wrong, then let's find another solution to support our local businesses.”

However, similar closures in other parts of the city have resulted in some pushback. On Friday, the city's ombudsman announced it had received several complaints about road closures in the Plateau and Rosemont-Le-Petit-Patrie areas.

“There's going to be pushback, there's going to be people that are concerned,” said Downey. “For us, under these extensive measures and the direction of public health, we have to do what we can to guarantee that businesses have the support they need.”