Coronavirus: Montreal bars warned to follow the physical distancing rules

Horacio Arruda, Quebec director of National Public Health, responds to reporters during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Wednesday, June 17, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

During the provincial government’s press conference in Montreal on Tuesday, public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda answered reporters questions on the possibility of a second coronavirus wave and confinement measures.

Arruda, in response to a CBC reporter’s question, said “at what point does Quebec say we have to go back to confinement?” Arruda pointed out that along with deconfinement, new cases will inevitably emerge but that important physical distancing and sanitization measures need to be enforced to avoid significant flare-ups.

READ MORE: Quebec to make masks mandatory on public transit as of July 13

Arruda gave the example of bars. He said it’s now up to bar owners and staff to be responsible and enforce social distancing measures and if they don’t comply and “start to become (the source of an outbreak), we will close them.”

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“If bars respect the two-metres we put in the place, the risk is the same as a restaurant.”

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Ziggy Eichenbaum, owner of Ziggy’s Pub on Crescent Street in downtown Montreal, said he agrees with Arruda.

Bars have the responsibility to make sure people observe proper social distancing, said Eichenbaum.

He can’t speak for other bars — but Eichenbaum insists if costumers disobey rules at Ziggy’s, they’re asked to leave but he hasn’t had any problems so far.

READ MORE: Some Montreal bar owners plan to reopen in defiance of province

The newly appointed Health Minister Christian Dubé elaborated on his testing strategy on Tuesday morning, indicating testing in busy bars may become a priority.

Testing needs to be evaluated by region, said Dubé. “I take the example of what’s happening in bars for example.”

Eichenbaum believes people will continue to respect the necessary measures and said it won’t get to the point where the government has to intervene again.

—  With files from Global’s Phil Carpenter and Jamie Orchard

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