Small indoor gatherings, dining in restaurants allowed in most of Quebec starting June 15
Gatherings of up to 10 people in private homes will be allowed a week later in Montreal
After nearly three months, Quebecers looking to go out for a meal or visit a friend will be allowed to do so.
For most of the province, dining in restaurants and having over friends or family will be allowed starting June 15. Montrealers and those living in Joliette and L'Épiphanie will have to wait until June 22.
People will be allowed to gather indoors in groups of 10 or fewer as long as they continue to keep a safe distance from each other and make sure to clean surfaces.
As is the case for outdoor gatherings, indoor gatherings should only include members of three households, said Dr. Richard Massé, a public health advisor with the province.
It's recommended that people keep track of who visited and when, so public health officials can trace contacts in the case of infections. Also, officials say seniors or those with health problems should continue to use caution.
The province is also loosening some restrictions around alcohol, such as allowing delivery and drinking without ordering food, to help restaurants get back on their feet.
Opening with restrictions in place
However, certain restrictions need to be in place to reduce the risk of spreading the virus and the province will deploy 1,000 agents who will work to educate restaurant owners in person or by phone about those restrictions.
Labour Minister Jean Boulet said on Monday that the new rules include maintaining two metres' distance between clients, regularly disinfecting surfaces and kitchen staff will be required to wear face coverings if they are working in close quarters.
Only businesses permitted to serve food can reopen this month. Bars will not be allowed to open and there is no date yet for when they will be allowed to do so.
Boulet said there is a concern, just as there is with allowing religious ceremonies and weddings, that people have a few drinks and lower their guard — increasing the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
Local economic driver
Quebec Agriculture Minister André Lamontagne stressed the importance of supporting local restaurants.
He said the province's $14-billion restaurant industry employs 200,000 people, supporting Quebec agriculture and local food and beverage producers.
"They are important because they allow us to share good meals, but they are also important because they allow us to share good times," Lamontagne said.
In May, Restaurants Canada estimated that 10 per cent of restaurants in the province would go under as a result of the pandemic.