Businesses forced to close during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic still don’t know if they’ll be allowed to reopen one week from now.
The economy minister would not confirm that they will stay closed but said if that is the case, more government financial aid will follow.
The government ordered the shutdown until at least Oct. 28, but has since warned Quebecers that some restrictions will be extended.
That has Quebec bar owners anxious for news.
“Give us an answer. Don’t leave it to the last minute,” said Paul Desbaillets, who runs the Burgundy Lion in Montreal and is a member of Quebec’s New Association of Bars.
“Just let us know, don’t leave it to the day before to say, you get to open, or you don’t get to open — we’re extending it or we’re not,” he said.
Wednesday, Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon would not confirm which — if any — businesses would be forced to remain closed, but he says the government is prepared to dole out $100 million a month to continue its financial subsidies.
“We have not yet approved any extension, but I’ll just say that we need to be coherent. I mean, if the businesses are still closed after October 28th, it will be tough to find a reason not to continue,” said Fitzgibbon.
Liberal MNA Monsef Derraji expressed frustration on this issue during question period.
“Mr. Speaker, when is the minister of the economy go to finally act?” he asked.
Derraji said projections from KPMG show 31 per cent of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are facing bankruptcy during this second wave. He said in Quebec that could mean 80,000 businesses, regardless of financial aid from the government.
“I think that you should be careful before becoming alarmist,” Fitzgibbon replied.
The minister said there are fewer bankruptcies this year than there were last year and added that the government’s program, which reimburses companies up to $15,0000 a month for fixed expenditures, is working to keep businesses alive.
Wednesday, the government also — for the second time — tabled a bill that would allow meal services like Uber Eats or Dash to deliver alcohol.
The deputy premier said it will also relax rules for restaurants for when they reopen.
“They will be able to serve alcohol without serving a meal. This will attract more customers, so this is a good thing for them,” said Geneviève Guilbault.