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Many Montreal Restaurants (But Not All) Have Voluntarily Decided to Close Down Due to COVID-19

Monday afternoon and evening seemed to be a tipping point, as scores of restaurants chose to close down or switch to delivery and take-out services in the name of public health.

Toqué/Facebook

Numerous Montreal restaurateurs have decided to temporarily close their businesses in response to ongoing coronavirus outbreaks.

While the Quebec government did not impose new restrictions on restaurants from Monday into Tuesday morning, many establishments are progressively and voluntarily taking extra measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Restaurants and coffee shops are currently permitted to open for business as long as they are no more than 50 percent full, with the Quebec government recommending that extra space be placed between seated customers. All bars are required to remain closed.

Restaurants that initially appeared to be remaining open started re-evaluating their decisions as the situation evolves — the Joe Beef group was a leader of sorts, announcing the decision to close all its restaurants (except McKiernan, for take-out and delivery) early in the weekend; the following day, groups like Olive & Gourmando followed suit.

A la lumière des derniers événements et directives gouvernementales pour limiter tout risque de propagation de la...

Posted by Restaurant Toqué! on Monday, March 16, 2020

Monday seemed to be a tipping point for restaurants, as a hefty number of notable names opted for the same approach, including the Impasto group (Impasto, Pizzeria Gema, Chez Tousignant, and Vesta), and the Club Chasse et Pêche group (Le Club Chasse et Pêche, Le Serpent, Il Miglio, Le Filet) in the afternoon. That evening, Toqué also opted to reverse its plan to stay open, announcing an immediate closure, as did Au Pied de Cochon, Damas, La Chronique, Lawrence, and Larrys — to name a few.

Most of the closed restaurants have not given a timeline for reopening, stating that they’re indefinite, although a few have indicated that they’re planning to close for two weeks, with the caveat that such closures may end up being extended.

There are still restaurants that are accepting diners (while adhering to the 50 percent capacity rule), although their ranks are thinning. At the time of writing, Café Ferreira and others under the same ownership (such as Campo) still appeared to be open, as is L’Express and Le Mousso (to name a few) — but there appears to be a generalized mounting pressure in favour of closing dining rooms.

Of course, there’s a middle ground here: Plenty of restaurants have closed their dining rooms while remaining open for delivery or take-out service, in many cases creating special menus for the situation. Those offering such services tend to be more casual or mid-range restaurants. Many menus at finer-dining establishments are particularly difficult to translate into take-out, so gemerally speaking, the fancier the restaurant, the less likely it is to be offering any kind of delivery special (although there are a few outliers — Outremont Syrian destination Damas is going to offer this).

Then there are chain restaurants — a few, like Tim Hortons, Starbucks, Harvey’s, and St. Hubert have opted to close dining rooms and switch to delivery and take-out service only at all restaurants. But other major players like McDonald’s Canada and A&W have not yet closed down their dining rooms on a national scale, although individual franchisees may have decided to do so in some cases.

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