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Public health warns of coronavirus risk at bars amid Montreal outbreaks

Coronavirus cases linked to B.C. bars and nightclubs cause concern
ABOVE: Coronavirus cases linked to B.C. bars and nightclubs cause concern.

Canadians who are looking to meet friends and family at a bar should consider the risk factors of contracting the coronavirus, deputy chief public health officer Dr. Howard Njoo said Tuesday.

“A risk factor in terms of getting together in a bar… is alcohol. And after one or two drinks, people might feel less inhibited,” Njoo said at a media conference. “And if you go in with good intentions with wearing a mask and social distancing… who knows, after one or two drinks, that might change.”

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

More evidence is showing that the risk of contracting the coronavirus indoors is higher, and hanging out at a crowded bar with loud talking and touching surfaces may put you at higher risk, the health official warned.

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“The fact that people might be there for a long period of time… Duration puts people at higher risk. People need to evaluate at a personal level the risks and benefits of going to a bar and what they can do to mitigate that risk,” Njoo added.

His comments came amid outbreaks linked to several Montreal bars.

On Tuesday, the city confirmed that at least 30 cases of the novel coronavirus have been detected among people who frequented nine bars since July 1.

Toronto bar in hot water for lack of physical distancing
Toronto bar in hot water for lack of physical distancing

On Saturday, Quebec public health authorities urged anyone who has visited a bar in the city since July 1 to get tested for COVID-19.

Montreal health official Dr. David Kaiser said on Tuesday that at least 3,000 people have been tested since that call.

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Although bars are slowly reopening across Canada, physical-distancing rules remain in place. For example, in Ontario and Quebec, a distance of two metres must be maintained between customers at bars.

Last week, Quebec tightened rules around bars in order to limit the spread of the virus, including cutting hours and ordering establishments to operate at half capacity.

In Ontario, bars in most regions will be allowed to reopen starting July 17.

— With files from Global News’ Kalina Laframboise