The end date for most of Quebec’s coronavirus health measures has been brought forward by two days. That means that as of Saturday, March 12, restaurants and bars in the province will be allowed to operate at full capacity and with normal hours. The vaccine passport mandate will also be dropped, and dancing and karaoke will be permitted.
The decision was announced in a statement from Quebec’s health ministry Wednesday afternoon and further explained during a press conference by interim director of public health Dr. Luc Boileau on Thursday.
The province had previously announced that the measures would be phased out on March 14, but Boileau now says a “very encouraging” epidemiological situation has prompted an adjustment to the timeline.
At the moment, restaurants and bars must operate at 50 percent of their usual capacity, with tables spaced at least 1 metre apart. Food and drink service must end at midnight, with closing time an hour later. Karaoke and dancing are banned, and vaccine passports are required.
Quebec is also planning to remove its mask requirement for all indoor public spaces — other than public transit — by mid-April. A precise date will be announced in the coming weeks, giving Quebecers at least 10 days’ notice. At the moment, diners must wear masks unless eating or drinking.
Boileau says that though mask wearing will no longer be obligatory, the province isn’t recommending against it. “It is becoming a personal choice,” he said.
Mask rules for workers were adjusted on February 28: Wearing one is now only mandatory when two metres of distance or a physical barrier is not present. Quebec’s labour standards board, the CNESST, confirmed with Eater that this applies to restaurant employees. “However, wearing a quality mask remains necessary in traffic areas,” the CNESST spokesperson said.
In a press release on March 2, the CNESST said that mask-wearing will no longer be required for most workers by mid-April and that as of March 7, the required minimum distance for going unmasked will be reduced to one metre.
Quebec reported 24 new deaths linked to COVID-19 on Thursday. The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations decreased by 17 to 1,364.