Restaurants in Quebec will be able to open up dining rooms beginning next week after being shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The province also announced that indoor gatherings of up to 10 people from three families will be permitted.
Restaurants in most of the province will be permitted to open June 15, but those in the greater Montreal region and the towns of Joliette and L’Epiphanie will have to wait until June 22.
Agriculture Minister Andre Lamontagne and Labour Minister Jean Boulet made the announcement today, highlighting several rules that will apply, including physical distancing between diners, frequent disinfection and safety measures for staff.
Indoor gatherings will be allowed under the same conditions as outdoor ones that were permitted several weeks ago, with distancing paramount between member of different households.
Dr. Richard Masse of the public health department says hosts are asked to be sure those attending gatherings can be quickly tracked in case of a COVID-19 case.
The number of new COVID-19 cases stayed below 200 Monday as the province registered six new deaths. Health authorities say 198 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours, bringing the provincial total to 53,047.
A total of 4,984 people have died of COVID-19 in Quebec since the pandemic began.
Quebec’s number of new cases has been trending downward, with less than 300 new positive tests a day for the past week. Hospitalizations crept upward by seven to 979, while the number of people in intensive care declined by seven.
The province and the federal government on Monday announced $50 million in new aid for small and medium-sized businesses in the hit-hard city, which is the epicentre of COVID-19 in Canada.
The aid was confirmed Monday by federal Economic Development Minister Melanie Joly, provincial Economy and Innovation Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon and Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante.
The money, which is mainly aimed at downtown businesses, will be distributed in the form of low-interest loans of up to $40,000 as well as grants.
Some $30 million of the money will come from the federal government through its COVID-19 regional relief fund, while Quebec will add $20 million to its fund for Montreal, which now sits at $60 million.
In addition to retail stores, restaurants and the cultural sector will also be eligible for the program.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2020.
The Canadian Press