COVID-19: Quebec lays out ground rules for summer festivals, other cultural happenings

A crowd at the Montreal Jazz Festival listening to a concert, Montreal, Que.. June 28, 2012. Denis Beaumont/The Canadian Press

Summer in the city is looking up for Montreal after Quebec Premier François Legault announced Monday an end to the province’s overnight curfew on May 28 and the gradual loosening of COVID-19 restrictions.

Among the many announcements was the reopening of stadiums and other entertainment venues across the province and the return of summer festivals.

“All I want to say is ‘finally,'” said Culture Minister Nathalie Roy on Tuesday. “Finally we’ll be able to reconnect with our artists who give us our summer joie de vivre.”

Roy made the comments during a press conference alongside Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx, outlining some of the ground rules for the gradual reopening.

Read more: Quebec to do away with curfew as province unveils COVID-19 reopening plan

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While spectators will be able to enjoy outdoor shows as early as this Friday, people shouldn’t expect business as usual.

Only outdoor shows with pre-assigned seating will be allowed with a maximum capacity of 250 people. Masks will be mandatory with two-metre distancing between members of a different family bubble in red and orange zones. In yellow zones, the distance will be reduced to one metre.

Just a week later, on May 28, big theatres, amphitheatres and stadiums will be allowed to put on shows with pre-assigned seating with a maximum capacity of 2,500. Masks will again be mandatory and spectators will be subdivided into sections or rooms of 250 people each.

Again, social distancing rules will be in effect according to the province’s colour-coded alert system.

Each section must be monitored by at least one employee to ensure public health guidelines are being followed. Each section must also be divided from the next by physical barriers and have independent entrances and exits.

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Concession stands will be open in yellow and orange zones but there will be people walking around offering food and drinks in order to avoid lineups.

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Festivals and other cultural events, with or without assigned seating, are scheduled to make a comeback on June 25.

Again, organizers and spectators alike will have to abide by several rules.

Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx said event promoters or organizers will have to submit a plan that must be approved by regional public health agencies.

Festivals will be limited to 2,500 spectators, with barriers between subsections of 250 people. However, Proulx specified that one festival can have different venues if they’re 500 metres apart.

That would allow something like the Montreal International Jazz Festival to hold two outdoor concerts on different streets, each with 2,500 capacity.

Read more: COVID-19: Montreal restaurants, bars look ahead to reopening date with mixed emotions

Proulx said ticket sales for such events should be done online in order to better control attendance and to serve as a registry in case of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Officials said the rules are subject to the epidemiological situation and could change if the situation worsens.

Alain Mongeau, the founder of electronic music festival Mutek, said he’s planning a hybrid model of the event for this year.

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Mongeau told Global News he’s not bothered by all the new rules, that there’s cause for celebration.

“They don’t bother us. You have to be very optimistic about the fact that festivals can happen this summer,” he said.

“The second thing we could be happy about is the fact that we consider light at the end of the tunnel. We are on the way.”

— With files from Global News’ Gloria Henriquez

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