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Quebec Government Says Bars Serving Food Can No Longer Stay Open Past Midnight

The clampdown is a result of four more regions in Quebec being categorized “yellow” in the province’s COVID-19 alert system

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Quebec bars are now forbidden from selling food past midnight. The additional measure was put in place Tuesday, September 15, after Premier François Legault announced during a press conference that Montreal, along with three other Quebec regions, has now been labelled “early warning” or “yellow,” according to a new regional alert system designed to inform the public about the status of COVID-19 transmission in the province.

“The situation is worrying, and we must react now,” Legault said, referring to the province’s increasing COVID-19 count. On Tuesday, the number of newly reported cases leapt to 292, marking the third consecutive day in which more than 275 cases were recorded.

Until now, bars across the province have been required to stop serving drinks at midnight. However, some vendors with food handling permits have remained open until 3 a.m.

“We are doing this because some people think they’re more intelligent than the rules. They say, ‘If we want to keep selling alcohol, we just need to add chicken nuggets and it’ll be perfect,’” Quebec health minister Christian Dubé said during yesterday’s press conference. “Well, it doesn’t work like that. It’s done for bars selling food after midnight.”

The announcement comes at a time when certain bars across the province have added kitchens to their businesses and applied for food permits from the MAPAQ (the ministry that oversees food inspection) with the intention of extending their operating hours past midnight to keep afloat amid the pandemic. According to the Journal de Montreal, this was the case for bar Le Date in Montreal’s Gay Village (also affected by the province’s new karaoke restriction), which laid off about 15 people yesterday in light of the new measure.

No region in Quebec has been labelled “orange” or “moderate alert” yet, but Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, said, “It’s certain some areas will be in the orange soon.” When that does happen, new restrictions may include limits on the size of public gatherings and the suspension of indoor service for restaurants and bars — news that’s likely to send shockwaves across Montreal as outdoor terraces already begin to retire for the season.