Dancing, karaoke to return to Quebec bars, high school students can ditch masks in class
Quebec health minister announces loosening of COVID-19 restrictions
After months of restraint, dancing and singing will be allowed again in Quebec bars and restaurants as of Nov. 15, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced in a COVID-19 update Tuesday.
Face coverings, including for those singing karaoke, will still be required, unless the singer is two metres away from other people.
Quebec is loosening a number of other wide-ranging COVID-19 health restrictions as of that date, because the "epidemiological situation is relatively under control," Dubé said.
Workplaces will no longer have to prioritize working from home, though they should still allow it, he said. Gyms will also no longer have to require distancing and face masks during high-intensity workouts.
High school students will only need to wear masks while moving around on school grounds.
For students in the Greater Montreal area, Quebec City and Chaudière-Appalaches regions, this change will mark the first time in more than a year they've been allowed to sit in class without a mask.
The new rule will also apply to the following regions where high school students have been required to wear masks inside classrooms: the Eastern Townships, Lanaudière, the Laurentians, Outaouais, Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec.
The same goes for municipal regional counties (MRCs) in Chaudière-Appalaches — Beauce-Sartigan, Appalaches, Etchemins, Bellechasse, Nouvelle-Beauce and Robert-Cliche — as well as the Matapedia MRC in the Lower-Saint-Lawrence.
In all of these regions and specific MRCs, elementary students will still need to wear masks at all times, including while seated.
Back to full capacity
During Tuesday's news conference, Dubé also announced that ski hills will be allowed to operate at full capacity this year — with customers having to show their proof of vaccination for entry at all establishments with a chairlift — and bars and restaurants will no longer need to keep registries of customers coming in.
Skiers will be required to wear masks on enclosed gondolas, but not on open-air chairlifts.
Other public health restrictions have been rolled back in recent weeks. Since Oct. 8, venues with assigned seating, including the Bell Centre, no longer have capacity restrictions.
And as of Monday, bars and restaurants can also operate at full capacity.
Last week, the province announced it would not mandate vaccination against COVID-19 for teachers and other staff in schools. However, the government has set a Nov. 15 deadline for health-care workers to get adequately vaccinated.