Montreal

Montreal mayor calls on Quebec for 'complete' pandemic reopening schedule

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante is calling on the provincial government to provide a concrete reopening plan for the spring and summer to protect the city's reputation and economic development. 

Plante calls for concrete plan for spring, summer as seen in other provinces like Ontario

Montreal's Quartier des spectacles, seen here recently as a new rink opens, is usually hopping with people for year-round festivals. (Jean-Claude Taliana/Radio-Canada)

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante is calling on the provincial government to provide a concrete reopening plan for the spring and summer.

Plante says the city is entering a crucial phase for booking big tourist events like festivals and conventions, and the unpredictability is putting many of those events planned for the city at risk.

Venues need clear health guidelines to plan their events, Plante said at a news conference Sunday, accompanied by Glenn Castanheira, general manager of Montreal's downtown business association and Yves Lalumière, president of Tourisme Montréal. 

"Other provinces have this plan, they have this predictability, but not Quebec," Plante said, pointing to Ontario, which  announced a comprehensive plan on Jan. 20 that includes a complete reopening in mid-March.

"Montreal, as a cultural metropolis, economic locomotive, needs this plan to support its entire [cultural] industry," she said.

Lalumière said Montreal is "a dynamic and vibrant city," except it's now perceived as closed, without plans to reopen. 

"Our hotel partners, airline partners, cultural partners, gastronomic partners, are exasperated and are discouraged by the lack of planning," he said. 

"Montreal deserves more than a week's worth of planning."

A risk to Montreal's reputation

Montreal is in danger of losing ground to its competitors as sports, cultural, and convention planners in particular need answers, Lalumière said, adding that some are on the verge of cancelling events scheduled to take place in Montreal due to the lack of predictability.

He said there is a "huge risk" to Montreal's economic health and its reputation as an open city, as cities like Chicago, Boston and New York are all open.

"Montreal is the only major North American city with no date for reopening," he said. 

Castanheira bemoaned the province's tight restrictions.

"We were the first to lock down and are the last to reopen," he said, adding that he isn't questioning the province's health regulations. 

Plante says it's not about not following the rules or lobbying for great change, "but there has to be a plan." 

Plante says the city is entering a crucial phase for booking big tourist events like festivals and conventions, such as POP Montreal, and the unpredictability is putting many of them planned for the city at risk. (POP Montreal Press Photo/Coralie Daigneault)

She is asking the Quebec government for a complete reopening plan, the list of sanitary measures that will be required at spring and summer events, and to continue to support the venues that will open at a loss. 

The first phase in the province's reopening plan began last week when restaurant dining rooms reopened to patrons and school sports were allowed to resume.

Starting Monday, venues across Quebec's cultural sector are allowed to partially reopen after being shut down since December. 

Cinemas, theatres, concert halls and sports venues are allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity or a maximum of 500 people (1,000 for outdoor events) and proof of vaccination is required for entry.

The next phase, starting Feb. 14, will see restrictions lift for all indoor sports, gyms and spas, while bars and casinos will remain closed until further notice.

With files from Radio-Canada

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