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Montreal Restaurant Terrasses Allowed to Open on May 28

But bars will have to wait a little while longer — until June 11

AFP via Getty Images

Terrasse season in Montreal is officially around the corner. As of May 28, restaurants across the province will be allowed to open their outdoor dining spaces to customers.

Three days later, on May 31, most regions in Quebec are expected to shift to the orange alert level, meaning the city’s restaurants may be among those allowed to open their indoor dining rooms, too.

Montreal bars will need to wait a little while longer, until June 11, to open their terrasses. Like restaurants, they may be able to open indoors soon after, on June 14, when most regions in Quebec are expected to move into the yellow zone.

Premier François Legault shared the news at a 5 p.m. press conference today (May 18) while announcing that the province’s nightly curfew would also be lifted on May 28.

“We are exceeding our goals with the vaccination campaign, and thanks to your efforts we can now announce a reopening plan,” Legault said.

The premier had taken to Twitter this morning to celebrate a vaccine milestone: 75 percent of Quebec adults have either received their first dose or have an appointment lined up to do so. The province’s goal had been to vaccinate 75 percent of the population by June 24, but it now expects to reach that number by June 15, Legault said during the press conference.

The return of restaurant and bar terrasses comes with some restrictions, notably a cap on the number of people seated at a given table: either two adults (with their children) or a group of people living at the same address. The same will apply to restaurant dining rooms on May 31. On June 14, when most of Quebec is expected to move into the yellow tier, tables will be able to seat any number of people, from a maximum of two residences. Legault outlined the rules in an infographic he posted to Twitter the morning after the press conference (on May 19).

Pressed for clarification during the press conference, public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda, sitting alongside Legault as usual, confirmed that Montreal and Laval were considered part of the majority to which the alert level changes would apply. However, he said that all depends on how the epidemiological situation continues to unfold, and that an additional week could potentially be added to the timeline.

With details of Legault’s reopening plans having trickled through multiple news outlets since Monday, industry group Nouvelle association des bars du Québec (NABQ) posted on Facebook ahead of the official announcement to point out what it perceived to be an “incongruity” in the decision pertaining to bars. “We contacted the premier’s office to remind them that Bill 72 allows restaurants to serve alcohol without meals and that their terrasses could essentially be operated as bars. We recommend that they open bars as well as restaurants on Friday, May 28,” NABQ said in the post (originally in French, but translated here).

Explaining why the provincial government has decided to stagger the opening of terrasses for restaurants and bars, Legault said that at the former, patrons are less inclined to get up and socialize with others who aren’t part of their group.

To conclude his statement, Legault asked Quebecers to continue to follow the rules and get vaccinated with a first and, when possible, second dose. If all goes as planned, he says, masks will no longer need to be worn in most public places by the end of August.