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Montreal public health urges all bar patrons and employees to get tested for COVID-19

Coronavirus: Montreal bar owners react to public health announcement
WATCH: Patrons of Montreal bars were caught off guard on Saturday, when public health officials announced they want everyone who has been to a bar since July 1 to get tested for COVID-19. Global's Dan Spector reports on how car owners are reacting to the news.

In Montreal, city officials and public health authorities are urging anyone who visited a bar in the city since July 1 to get tested for the novel coronavirus after an outbreak was reported.

Dr. David Kaiser, a physician with public health, said in a late conference call on Saturday afternoon that at least five Montreal bars have reported cases of the COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, since the beginning of the month.

He says public health officials are trying to trace back all bar clients and employees, but since there were no registries it is very difficult to do so.

Kaiser says there has been an increase in the number of cases of COVID-19 in the 15 to 39 age group in the last few weeks. He fears there are many more undeclared cases.

“I’m very much afraid that what we are seeing is only the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “The pandemic is not behind us in Montreal and community transmission is very present.”

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READ MORE: Quebec bans bars from selling alcohol after midnight to limit coronavirus outbreaks

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante also took to social media, also calling on the public to share the notice widely and to get tested if they had frequented a bar in the city.

“Despite the good summer weather, the virus is still with us,” she said.

Anyone who worked at a bar or went to one since July 1 in Montreal is asked to call 514-644-4545 to schedule an appointment for testing.

The move from Montreal public health comes comes as tighter regulations for bars were implemented on Friday.

Health Minister Christian Dubé announced on Thursday that bars will now be asked to keep a registry of clients but that it will be voluntary.

In Quebec, bars are now only allowed to serve alcohol until midnight and customers must leave by 1 a.m. Establishments must only operate at 50 per cent of their capacity and customers must be seated.

The restrictions come after public health authorities urged patrons who visited Mile Public House on Montreal’s south shore during the night of June 30 to get tested for COVID-19.

Quebec reported 91 additional cases of COVID-19 on Saturday from the previous day, pushing the provincial total to 56,407 confirmed cases, along with eight more deaths.

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Montreal, the epicentre of the virus’s outbreak in the country, accounts for roughly half of the province’s cases. As of Saturday, the total number of infections stands at 27,555.

Annie’s pub temporarily shuts down after employee tests positive for coronavirus
Annie’s pub temporarily shuts down after employee tests positive for coronavirus

With files from the Canadian Press