Montreal restaurants can host customers inside starting today

Jun 22 2020, 5:15 am

Restaurants throughout Montreal and Joliette can now host clients inside for the first time since mid-March.

The announcement was made by the province’s Agriculture Minister AndrĂ© Lamontagne and Labour Minister Jean Boulet on June 8.

Restaurants everywhere else throughout the province were given the go-ahead as of June 15.

Lamontagne says Quebec’s restaurant industry earns $14 billion a year and employs over 200,000 jobs.

“It’s a major economic input and drives Quebec’s economy,” he said in French. “It’s also a place that’s important in our lives to share good meals and good times with those we love, the people we appreciate, and to relax and have a culinary experience.

Lamontagne says he has been in daily contact with restaurant owners throughout the province and has “heard and listened to all of their concerns” and feels the guidelines are “realistic in collaboration with restaurant needs.”

The Agriculture Minister says with the arrival of summertime comes the desire to sit on terraces. He says since there will be fewer seating opportunities inside restaurants, the government will do “everything that [it] can” to enable maximum terrace space for all restaurant owners.

He also encouraged restaurant owners to “modify themselves” to become more spacious.

There is no limit as to the number of customers that will be let inside restaurants during the deconfinement, and he said owners and managers will be able to judge the number of people that can be allowed in, so long as the physical distancing guidelines are being respected.

Boulet says the delivery of alcohol through delivery apps, citing Uber Eats and DoorDash, to accompany food will also be permitted, at a cheaper price than in-resto.

“The health and safety of workers and the clients is truly primordial,” says Boulet. “The CNESST (the Commission des normes, de l’Ă©quitĂ©, de la santĂ© et de la sĂ©curitĂ© du travail) has published a daily checklist for restaurant owners to follow.

The guide includes mandatory face masks for staff, presenting menus on screens and walls to limit the exchange of objects between people, and that frequently-touched objects (chairs, tables, door handles, tabletops) must be disinfected “constantly, many times a day.”

Restaurants that offer buffets must be served by employees instead of allowing customers to grab what they want.

Boulet says the province has deployed a team of over 1,000 CNESST agents who will be available to “raise awareness and to educate” owners who may have difficulty understanding the newly-implemented rules. He says the agents will be available at all times through the phone or in person.

“The summer has finally arrived and it’s time to take advantage of it by supporting local food and drink, in person,” he concluded.

Today has become an important launching date for various sectors across Quebec, including the reopening of places of worship, gyms, indoor pools, athletic arenas, beaches, cinemas, theatres, and concert venues.

Physical distancing guidelines have also diminished from the oft-mentioned two-metres to one and a half. Indoor gatherings now permit a maximum of 50 people.