Quebec premier François Legault announced today that restaurants and bars across the province will be permitted to reopen at 100 percent capacity beginning March 14.
In the lead-up to that date, which coincides with the two-year mark since Legault declared a public health emergency, the province will progressively lift a number of other COVID-19 measures, including those applying to the hospitality industry.
First, on February 12, seating limitations in restaurants will be loosened to allow for groups of 10 (or the members of three households) to dine together. Since January 31, when restaurants were given the green light to reopen their dining rooms at 50 percent capacity, only four people (or the occupants of two households) have been allowed to share a table.
Then, on February 28, bars in Quebec will be able to welcome patrons indoors — something that’s been off-limits since December 20, 2021. (Before that bars had been open, with varying measures, since June 14, 2021.)
Certain measures in bars will remain though, including a 50 percent capacity cap, bans on dancing and karaoke, and a mandatory 1 a.m. closing time (with alcohol sales ending an hour earlier).
Legault did not specify a change in closing time for restaurants during Tuesday’s presser, but a subsequent update to the measures listed on the official site of the Quebec government states that restaurants will also be able to remain open until 1 a.m., with food and beverage service ending at midnight, as of February 28. Right now, those times are each an hour earlier.
Two weeks later, on March 14, the province will remove bans karaoke and dancing, as well as all capacity restrictions applying to restaurants and bars. Mandates related to mask wearing and the vaccine passport will remain in effect for the foreseeable future.
“We are taking a calculated risk to learn to live with the virus, and the best way to do that is to get your three doses of the vaccine,” Legault said during Tuesday’s press conference.
The move follows recent pushback from business owners, industry groups, and Montreal mayor Valérie Plante, who called on provincial elected officials to provide a comprehensive reopening plan. But Legault said that until now, there was too much uncertainty to do so.
On February 8, the province reported 2,380 hospitalizations (45 less from the previous day) and 56 new deaths.
Update: February 9, 2022, 10:15 a.m.: This post has been updated to include new information about restaurant and bar closing times.