Quebec garages reopen to the public after month-long shutdown due to coronavirus pandemic

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In Quebec, auto repair shops and garden centres are allowed to reopen after being forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines has more – Apr 15, 2020

Garages across Quebec reopened their doors Wednesday morning after a temporary month-long shutdown came to an end.

Auto repair shops were allowed to resume work after Quebec Premier François Legault deemed them an essential service on Monday.

Many sectors of the Quebec economy have been at a standstill since the government ordered non-essential businesses to close last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Every hour there is about 20 to 40 phone calls for appointments,” said John Massa, co-owner of garage Donati & Massa.

The phones at the Longueuil garage have been ringing constantly, according to the owners, as people race to get their summer tires put on their car.

Springtime brings with it big business for garages, Massa said.

The month-long shutdown has led to a 50 to 40 per cent loss in revenue, Massa said.

“It’s the biggest month of the year for us. Unfortunately, we lost over three weeks of work,” Massa said.

That will be difficult for the garage, which can typically see 80 cars a day during peak season.

The shutdown forced the owners to let go of employees to cut costs. The garage is presently working with half its regular staff.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Quebec adds home building to list of essential services

All essential services that have been allowed to reopen will have to follow strict safety measures that will be enforced by Quebec’s workplace safety board.

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Gloves and protective gear will be mandatory for employees at garage Donati & Massa.

Car interiors, including steering wheels and door handles, will be disinfected after repairs, as will the car keys.

Employees will also have to respect social-distancing measures, which can be difficult in certain circumstances, according to workers.

“It’s not easy but we have to manage,” said Max Lubin, an employee at Donati & Massa.

Massa says he will also be limiting the number of clients and the time they spend in the building.

One only person will be allowed to be in the waiting room at a time. Clients are asked to leave and return only once their vehicle is ready.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Quebec postpones deadline to remove studded tires

The government is keeping an up-to-date list of essential services on its website. Those seeking more information on essential businesses and services can fill out an online form or call the government’s toll-free line at 1-855-477-0777.

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