Montreal nightclubs reopen with strict new COVID-19 regulations

With dancing forbidden, some nightclub owners worry they won't survive the summer.

With dancing forbidden, some nightclub owners worry they won't survive the summer

Bars, like this one on Crescent Street in Montreal, have been allowed to reopen since June 25. On Friday, many of the city's nightclubs did the same. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

While bars across the province were given the green light to reopen June 25, most Montreal nightclubs welcomed back clients for the first time on Friday evening. 

But after being closed for more than three months because of COVID-19, nightclubs have had to completely change gears in order to respect the province's safety guidelines.

This means that, among other things, dancing will not be allowed, and clients will have to remain seated. 

Most nightclubs have installed stools and tables on what used to be their dance floor. Some owners have also decided to go even further than the measures imposed by health authorities and will require customers to wear a mask and undergo temperature checks upon entering. 

For many nightclub owners, these new measures represent a significant financial burden, especially after three months without revenue. 

"There's a good $20,000 that went into preparations for reopening," Annie-Audrey Fortin, corporate director of La Voûte in Old Montreal, told Radio-Canada. 

"We increased our security. It was really a necessary measure because we don't want any slip-ups," she said. "We really have a moral and social responsibility to make sure that we don't become a breeding place for the virus."

'It's not viable to open in these conditions'

In order to ensure physical distancing is possible, many nightclubs have also had to let fewer people in. 

"The clients showed up [Friday evening], depending on the capacity that could be accommodated," said François Boitard, owner of Rouge Bar, a nightclub that has been in Montreal for 15 years.

Normally, the club can hold about 800 people total on its two floors. It now accommodates just 150 people on one floor. 

"It's a little complicated for clients to come here and stay seated, in the sense that our added value is to be able to dance," said Boitard.

"In the medium to long term, if the government obliges us to function this way, I don't think there will be any clubs left in Montreal come fall."

Boitard is calling for more flexible regulations in nightclubs and other sectors of Quebec's economy. 

"The economy minister needs to take responsibility because, by allowing us to open, he has thrown us a line. It's like saying: 'You're open now, so we're washing our hands of it.' But it's not viable to open in these conditions," said Boitard. 

On Sunday, public health officials in Montérégie called on people who were at a bar recently in the Dix30 shopping centre on the South Shore to get tested for COVID-19.

Officials said several people who were inside and on the patio at the Mile Public House on June 30 have tested positive for the disease.

With files from Radio-Canada