Quebec bars, restaurants will be allowed to serve alcohol later, outdoor festivals can have 15,000 spectators

Restaurants and bars will be able to serve alcohol until 1 a.m. and festivals can allow more spectators.

Province loosens restrictions as vaccination rates increase

Quebec is further loosening restrictions on bars and event capacities as the rate of fully vaccinated residents climbs.  (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

Quebec is further loosening restrictions on bars, restaurants and events as of Aug. 1 as the rate of fully vaccinated residents steadily climbs. 

Bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve alcohol until 1 a.m.— one hour longer than is currently permitted — as of Aug. 1 at 12:01 a.m, the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MSSS) announced Monday. Bars must still close at 2 a.m.

Stadiums, venues and festivals can increase capacity to 15,000 spectators outdoors, up from 5,000. For indoor venues, 7,500 people will be allowed, with a maximum of 500 people per independent section. The current limits are 3,500 people indoors with a cap of 250 people per section. 

Events during which people remain seated in designated spaces, like bleachers or stands, can now welcome up to 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors. This applies to sports events, meetings, conventions and ceremonies. The current limits are 50 people inside and 100 people outside.

The government noted that distancing measures remain mandatory, both inside and outside. Wearing a mask or face covering is also required in indoor settings, particularly when people are moving around. 

The changes come after the province announced more than 60 per cent of eligible Quebecers have now received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, an encouraging indicator according to the province's health minister. 

Last week, Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx announced the province would be testing measures at two large-scale events in the fall with a goal to once again welcome large international audiences at festivals. Some experts said, with the more transmissible delta variant lingering in the background, the move was premature. 

Proulx said those events would be cancelled if Quebec sees a surge in cases.

Risk of transmission is low — for now

For Dr. Christopher Labos, an epidemiologist in Montreal, the loosening of restrictions comes at a time when the risk of spreading COVID-19 and the threat of the delta variant are relatively low — but he warns they might not remain that way. 

"Come the fall, it's possible that we can see more spread of COVID and if that happens, we're going to have to adjust the plan." 

If Quebec does see a surge in cases come September, Labos is in favour of the government's plan to implement a vaccine passport that will keep capacity up and non-vaccinated people out of certain non-essential activities and events.

"If everyone in a venue is fully vaccinated, the likelihood that you're going to cause an outbreak is pretty low," he said. 

Last week, Quebec's health minister told young people that the use of vaccine passports lies in their hands.

"Young people must make a difference if we want to avoid using the vaccination passport," Christian Dubé tweeted. "The variant is already present in Quebec," he said.


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