Quebec announced Thursday that bars and restaurants could accommodate the maximum number of customers as of November. Press went to gather feedback from customers and owners in the evening. And the mood was high.
Posted on October 15, 2021 at 5:00 a.m.
At the Verdun Beach wine bar on Wellington Street, owner Charles Garant was eager to fill up with customers. “It’s been such a long time, that’s the time it has been happening,” he emphasizes. The bars, which welcome half the number of customers than usual, will be able to operate at full capacity from November. The distance between tables without partitions will be reduced to one meter rather than two.
Bars were to close at 2 a.m. and stop selling alcohol at 1 a.m. They will soon be able to return to their normal opening hours, until 3 a.m. ” I think that [le temps est venu de] close as soon as possible, ”adds Mr. Garant.
Wearing a mask and vaccination passport will remain in effect and clients will have to remain seated during the evening. A maximum of 10 people – or the occupants of three homes – may meet at the same table in the restaurant.
Thursday’s announcement is “a breath of fresh air”, rejoices Martin Vézina, director of public and government affairs at the Association Restauration Quebec. More seating capacity equals more sales, he argues. “The operators have been rigorously enforcing the rules for several months, they were eager for it to be their turn. “
“I was used to making the evening rise”
Still rue Wellington, the DJ of the Palco bar, Antoine-Samuel Mauffette Alavo, is eager to get customers dancing. “I was used to making the evening rise,” he emphasizes. According to Timothée Laperrière-Doré, assistant manager of the same establishment, the announcement from Quebec is “a step in the right direction”, especially with the onset of cold weather and the imminent closure of the terrace.
But adjustments will be necessary. “We got used to a lifestyle a little earlier, both us and the clientele,” he explains. But we see it in a good light, especially since we always drove well at these times. ”
Opposite, Kamar Boudemlij, general manager of the Benelux brewery, says he hopes to attract customers by broadcasting the hockey matches. Beer in hand, Patrick Gohier says he agrees with the relaxations, provided that the wearing of a mask and the vaccination passport continue to be required. “As long as we’re not strung like chickens, I’m okay with that,” he says.
On the terrace, Marine Pochat and Antoine Jaouen say they are bored of being able to socialize with other customers. “There is less spontaneity, everyone is at their table and we do not talk to neighbors,” says Mr. Jaouen.
Later in the evening, music resonates in the Irish tavern Le Trèfle. The manager, William Maltais, believes that Thursday’s announcement will allow restaurateurs to “breathe”. “It has been pretty trying times over the past year and a half,” he says. Is it still so difficult to recruit employees? “It’s really less difficult than before. Looks like the labor shortage has unblocked, ”he said.
It is risky to open the bars to maximum capacity, while there are still more than 600 cases and vaccine protection is declining, believes André Veillette, professor of medicine and director of the Molecular Oncology Research Unit. at the Montreal Clinical Research Institute. ” I think [que les autorités] play with fire, ”he warns.
Slight increasing trend
The number of COVID-19 cases continues to increase slightly in Quebec, while the number of deaths and hospitalizations remains stable. The province reported 644 new cases Thursday, bringing the daily average to 557. The trend is thus up 4% over one week, and this is mainly felt among the 1.9 million unvaccinated Quebecers. Two deaths were added to the toll, bringing the daily average to four, which is slightly lower than last week’s average. With 298 patients, the number of hospitalizations remains stable. Of these, 76 are in intensive care. To date, 78.8% of Quebecers of all ages have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 76% are fully immunized. Quebec is one of the 10 most vaccinated states in the world.
With Pierre-André Normandin and Tommy Chouinard, Press