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The SAQ Remains Open Across Quebec, But With Reduced Hours

Also remaining open: the SQDC

An SAQ in Montreal

Update (March 23): The SAQ remains open for business across the province, although a few restrictions have been put in place:

  • Stores will be closed on Sundays for the foreseeable future
  • Stores will only open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the latest, although some individual stores may have shorter hours.
  • Although the Quebec government has effectively closed down shopping malls, SAQ locations in malls (and other services like pharmacies and supermarkets) will remain open.
  • The SAQ is only accepting card payments (no cash) at the moment, to reduce contact between customers and employees.
  • Stores have reduced capacities at the moment in order to keep distance between individuals.
  • The SQDC remains open as normal; while it closed its stores for a single day on Sunday March 23, it appears this was a one-off.

Quebec’s government-owned liquor retailer, the SAQ, will remain open for the foreseeable future — although the union representing SAQ employees is recommending that the company close stores.

According to the Journal de Québec, false information about a possible SAQ closure has been circulating on social media, with posts claiming that the retailer would be closing its stores on Wednesday, March 18.

The provincial government has confirmed that there are no imminent plans to close SAQ locations (the same applies to government cannabis retailer, the SQDC), and that SAQ outlets will continue opening for regular hours.

This is in line with the government’s current restrictions on public life in Quebec — retail stores are currently allowed to open as normal (although some malls have restricted their opening hours).

However, the union representing SAQ employees, SEMB-SAQ, has indicated that it would prefer for the company to close down its outlets in order to protect the health of staff. A statement published Saturday said that SEMB-SAQ had recommended a closure but the SAQ did not take up the recommendation.

At this stage SEMB-SAQ’s seems to be that it was making a recommendation, rather than a a more forceful demand, and the union’s statement doesn’t really criticize the company for opting to stay open. The statement goes on to note that the union and management have agreed on extra hygiene and safety provisions for SAQ workers, which have gone into effect.

These include that staff will not be asked to touch the cards of customers, that they will be able to strongly recommend that customers pay by card and not with cash, and that staff will be able to maintain at least one metre between themselves and other people (customers or other employees).

SEMB-SAQ has also announced that it would close its own offices (not the offices of the SAQ), allowing its employees to work remotely.