After being shuttered for months, gym and restaurant owners in Montreal and Laval are rejoicing over eased measures as all of Quebec is now out of the province’s highest pandemic alert level.
“It just feels good to have my doors open again,” said Herby Whyne, who runs Hard Knox gym in Montreal.
“It’s a really good feeling seeing people passing by.”
Those two cities, including a few smaller municipalities, were downgraded to the lower orange level Monday after months of measures designed to stem the spread of COVID-19.
The orange level means fitness centres and indoor dining rooms of restaurants are allowed to reopen after nearly eight months of being shut down. High school students in grades 9, 10 and 11 can also go back to in-person learning on a full-time basis.
Relaxing restrictions comes as the downswing of new cases, deaths and hospitalizations continues across the province.
In Quebec’s largest city, it’s the first time since the end of September that restaurant dining rooms have been allowed to open — though orange zone restrictions set a limit of two adults who don’t share an address per table.
Martin Vézina, spokesperson for the province’s restaurant association, said the plan is welcomed by Montreal restaurant owners after a rough year.
“It means more capacity and more capacity means more sales,” he said. “It’s good news for them.
“They want to welcome all costumers.”
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante thanked city dwellers for their efforts to abide by pandemic-induced rules and urged them to support local businesses reopening.
“I have a special thought for restaurateurs who will be able to open their dining rooms and find a certain normalcy,” she wrote on Twitter. “Let’s encourage them.”
Meanwhile, Whyne told Global News that fitness fanatics are also pumped to get back to the gym after being locked down for fall and winter.
“I think they are excited to come back and engage,” he said.
Montrealer Patricia Miller, a client of Econofitness, one of Quebec’s fitness club chains, says she waited impatiently for gyms to reopen.
“It represents so much happiness, self-care, good health, blowing some steam off,” she said.
Some regions go green
Restrictions were eased further Monday in six other regions and part of a seventh.
That includes the regions of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord and Nord du Québec, which moved to the province’s green or lowest alert level.
Indoor gatherings consisting of 10 people or the residents of no more than three households are permitted in green zones.
Quebecers can also look forward to more rules being loosened in the coming days. Outdoor terrasses (or patios) for bars will be allowed to reopen starting Friday.
— With files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines and The Canadian PressView link »