Quebec cracking down on crowded malls, stores during holiday shopping season

Quebec hopes to limit the spread of coronavirus by tightening distancing and capacity guidelines for stores and malls.

Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault said the province will take extra precautions given rising cases

Many rules were already in place for shopping in Quebec, including mandatory masks in stores. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

Quebec is tightening the health guidelines for stores and malls for the holiday shopping season in an attempt to limit the transmission of the coronavirus.

Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault said Wednesday she wants Quebecers to be able to shop for loved ones in a safe environment.

The measures include:

  • A maximum capacity of customers based on floor space available to customers. The capacity must be displayed at the front of the store or shopping mall.
  • Signs about distancing rules to ensure compliance while shopping and waiting in line.
  • Clear markings so that shoppers can more easily navigate the store.

Guilbault acknowledged that many shopping venues already have these measures in place. But she said those that don't risk being fined up to $6,000 or closed altogether.

She said police and workplace safety inspectors would increase their presence in shopping districts during the holiday period.

The province reported a record 1,514 cases on Wednesday, the highest daily total since the start of the pandemic, along with 43 deaths.

Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director, said earlier this week that shopping malls have not been a major driver of COVID-19 outbreaks but he said stricter guidelines would ensure that remains the case.

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