Quebec to allow indoor gatherings of 50 people, children to be closer together

The new regulations will take effect on June 22. Physical distancing rules for children will also ease up that day.

Larger gatherings allowed and cinemas can reopen on June 22

Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec's public health director, announced the reopening of movie theatres and performance spaces Monday. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Quebec is allowing indoor gatherings of up to 50 people once again, starting on June 22, provided social distancing rules are respected. 

Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director, made the announcement Monday, explaining that this new regulation will allow movie theatres and performance spaces to reopen, with special measures in place. 

In places with seating, and specifically where no one is talking, people will be expected to stay 1.5 metres away from one another, Arruda said. That includes university classrooms and movie theatres. 

In larger gathering areas where there is a lot of circulation, including in restaurants, Quebecers will still be expected to keep two metres apart.

"It will be even more important with the easing of the physical distancing to continue promoting measures that were proven to be efficient," Arruda said, stressing the importance of frequent hand washing. 

Arruda strongly recommends wearing a mask or face covering when in these large indoor gatherings. 

"Just as in gatherings in private places, the physical distancing will not be applicable to those people coming from the same household," he added. 

New physical-distancing rules in effect as of June 22. (CBC)

When it comes to concerts, there will need to be extra space between the performer and spectator, Dr. Richard Massé, a senior public health official, explained.

And spectators shouldn't expect to sing along with their favourite music. 

"Speaking does emit droplets," Massé said. He said singing creates even more droplets and is therefore riskier.

Places of worship still closed

This announcement does not include places of worship because there are several additional elements to consider when it comes to physical distancing there, Arruda said. He is expected to announce reopening dates for those institutions later this week.

"There are many religious groups where singing is one of the important elements, therefore we'll have to see whether people want to maintain the singing aspect or whether they want to reduce it or eliminate it," Massé said. 

When it comes to indoor gatherings at home, the maximum will still be 10 people from a maximum of three households.

Bars will also remain closed for now. 

New rules for children

The province is also allowing children under 16 to be closer together — only one metre apart instead of two. This will also apply in day camps and schools. 

"In regions where going back to school was done in the past few weeks, the news is very good up until now. A restrained number of outbreaks have been reported and, as we were hoping, no child was badly affected by the disease," Arruda said. 

Children will still need to maintain a two-metre distance from adults. 

Arruda said parents should consider having their kids socialize in "bubbles" — small groups of four to six children who would always play together and who would be allowed to interact with one another from a distance of less than one metre. 

"Exchanges with others are primordial," Arruda said of the impact of interacting with others on human development. 

Education Minister Jean-François Roberge is expected to announce more details on school and daycare regulations on Tuesday.


Franca G. Mignacca is a journalist at CBC Quebec.

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