Bars hit with more restrictions to stop the spread of coronavirus

By Michael Boriero – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Quebec government slapped harsher restrictions on bars following a jump in COVID-19 cases since establishments reopened on June 25.
The stiffer measures include a last call at midnight instead of 3 a.m. and restricting bars to 50 per cent of their capacity. People are expected to leave by latest 1 a.m. in order to shorten the hours when physical distancing is typically ignored.
Health Minister Christian Dubé and Quebec’s Director of Public Health Horacia Arruda delivered the news on Thursday afternoon in Montreal. During the press conference, Dubé also noted that dancing is prohibited and patrons must be seated at all times.
“The reopening of bars has already led to some very worrisome situations, which are likely to affect the protection of public health,” he said in a press release. “We will not let recalcitrant people or wrongdoers undermine the efforts that have been made in recent months.”
Dubé urged compliance from Quebecers. It’s only through a collective effort that people can limit the spread of the virus and save lives, he explained. Arruda added that it doesn’t fall solely on bar owners; the clientele needs to be aware of the risks.
“Respecting physical distance, washing your hands, wearing a mask, avoiding large gatherings: these are very important gestures that do not prevent you from enjoying life or resuming your activities,” said Arruda.
The restrictions will take effect starting July 10. But the government is planning to revisit the situation in a few weeks, according to Dubé, as several bar owners have already ex-pressed their displeasure with the new measures.
The provincial government spent several days consulting with the ministry of public security, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) and the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ).
Bar owners will also need to establish a register to record a patrons contact information.
Dubé said this initiative respects privacy protection rules and is intended to facilitate epidemiological investigations in the event of an outbreak.
Stan Groves, owner of the Golden Lion Pub in Lennoxville, supports the provincial government’s decision. He believes that at this point the safest way to recovery is by limiting time spent in bars, especially later in the evening.
“People want it to be over, I suppose, and it’s sort of your habit, you know? Social people want to go around and see people that they haven’t seen for a long time,” said Groves.

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