Testing ramped up, businesses shut on Montreal's South Shore following COVID-19 outbreak

A spike in COVID-19 cases on Montreal's South Shore has some businesses closing temporarily as health authorities track the outbreak. A mobile testing clinic will be set up at a community centre in Mercier Thursday.

Some businesses in Mercier closing temporarily after employees test positive

Resto Grégoire co-owners Jean-François and Emmanuel Grégoire said they decided to close the restaurant until all employees have their test results. One employee tested positive over the weekend after going out to a bar in Brossard. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

A spike in COVID-19 cases on Montreal's South Shore has some businesses closing temporarily as health authorities track the outbreak.

A mobile site will be set up at the Centre Roger-Tougas in the town of Mercier from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Mercier residents do not need an appointment to go.

Mercier Mayor Lise Michaud asked for the clinic after a number of new cases were reported in the area in the last few days.

"We are very happy about the rapid response of public health, and we are offering them all our logistical support," said Michaud in a statement.

The region's public health director said more than 40 confirmed cases are linked to two house parties late last month, one of which had more than 60 attendees.

While public gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed in the province, private gatherings in homes are limited to 10 people.

Some of the partygoers who eventually tested positive also went to the Mile Public House in the Brossard DIX30 shopping and entertainment complex on June 30.

The CISSS de la Montérégie is asking anyone who was at the bar that night from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. to get tested.

Resto Grégoire is one of several businesses in Mercier, Que., that have temporarily closed after an outbreak was detected last week in the region south of Montreal. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

A spokesperson for IGA said four employees at the Mercier location and at least one at the Châteauguay location are confirmed to have the virus, and the stores have since been disinfected.

At least three employees — at La boulangerie Fantaisie du blé, Resto Grégoire and the McDonald's, all in Mercier — have also tested positive.

The infected Resto Grégoire employee is believed to have contracted the disease while the worker was out with friends at Mile Public House. The restaurant owners say the sick worker is doing well, with only minor symptoms.

The restaurant's co-owner, Jean-Francois Grégoire, says he doesn't blame young people specifically. He says everyone is learning from this together.

"Everyone right now is very nervous. Especially the young people," he said.

The restaurant is staying closed until it has test results for all its employees.

Closing up shop as a precaution

Some other Mercier businesses are also taking preventive measures. Brasserie Distillerie Champ Libre will only be selling drinks to go, and resto-bar La Chapelle is shutting its doors temporarily.

Ugo Dieumegarde, co-owner of La Chapelle, said staying open isn't worth the risk.

"I decided, my wife and I, to close the bar to make sure we don't get infected," he said. "We'd rather close now for a few days than be closed for a few months."

La Chapelle did not have any employees test positive, but the resto-bar in Mercier, Que., has temporarily closed out of caution. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

He says he understands that after being cooped up for so long, people want to have fun. He says that makes it difficult to enforce a reduced capacity at bars.

"We're not police officers," he said. "We were all young. It's hard for them. It's hard for us. It's hard for everyone."

The Quebec government is expected to release new measures to enforce public health guidelines in bars and other gathering places this week — including police checks and fines for businesses and individuals.

Health Minister Christian Dubé said Monday the province would not hesitate to shut down bars that do not follow the rules.

With files from Jaela Bernstien

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