Private gatherings, not bars, are driving rise in new cases, says Quebec premier

Premier François Legault says he's not planning on closing bars right now.

Premier François Legault says he's not planning on closing bars right now

After over 800 new COVID-19 cases in the province in the past seven days, Premier François Legault says private gatherings, not bars, are the problem. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

As Quebec sees a steady increase in COVID-19 cases, Premier François Legault says he doesn't plan to close down bars in the province for now.

"The main problem is not in the bars, it's private gatherings," said Legault Friday, when 141 new cases were reported.

He said he's keeping an eye on the situation, and that public health officials came to the conclusion after surveying the COVID-19 situation in the province. 

Since July 10, there have been more than 800 new cases in Quebec.

Quebec's public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said house parties are responsible for 35 per cent of the new cases, whereas five per cent of the transmissions are known to have originated in bars.

If bars become a significant source of spread, Arruda said, the province may close them. Health Minister Christian Dubé said Thursday he would be willing to do that if evidence showed it was necessary.

Legault now says that this is not the case and is asking Quebecers to avoid big parties and gatherings during the two-week construction holiday in the province. 

There should be no more than 10 people in any private gathering, whether indoors or outdoors, according to the provincial government's rules.

"You have to be very, very careful not to be forced to go back into confinement," Legault said.

No singing, mingling or dancing

Canada's deputy public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, says that he's concerned about the pictures he's seen of young people in crammed bars in Montreal along with the uptick in positive cases.

"This coincides with increasing reports of individuals contracting COVID-19 at parties, nightclubs and bars as well as increasing rates of transmission among young people," said Njoo.

He said even young people can have serious health consequences and that even if they do not, they can transmit the disease to older people, who are more likely to have complications.

"I encourage everyone, especially young adults to find creative ways to stay socially active in the time of COVID-19. Singing, mingling, and dancing in close contact with others in closed spaces, in crowded spaces, is not the way to party this summer."

Quebec's workplace health and safety board, the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) said Friday that their inspectors have carried out almost 1,000 interventions in the restaurant sector since the beginning of COVID-19.

They also said they received 224 complaints related to COVID-19 in restaurants and bars throughout Quebec.

New mobile testing sites

Legault's announcement comes as the province is preparing to open more testing sites on the island of Montreal, after the government struggled in recent days to keep up with demand.

Provincial health authorities are opening up two more mobile testing sites next week:

  • On Monday, a mobile clinic at the Albert-Gariépy community centre in Lachine, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • On Wednesday, a mobile clinic at the Gerry-Robertson community centre in Pierrefonds-Roxboro, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.

There are 12 additional sites on the island of Montreal where Quebecers can get a COVID-19 test. 

Those looking to get tested should bring their health insurance card and their driver's licence.

With files from Lauren McCallum Myriam Tremblay-Sher, Gabrielle Cimon and The Canadian Pres

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversationCreate account

Already have an account?