Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced Thursday that bars and restaurants across the province will be able to operate at maximum capacity starting on Nov. 1.
Additionally, bars and restaurants will be allowed to resume normal opening hours starting in November, so establishments that serve alcohol will be able to do so until 3 a.m.
Currently, bars can only accommodate customers at 50 per cent of their maximum capacity and have to stop serving alcohol at 1 a.m. and be closed by 2 a.m.
As for restaurants, the distance between tables will drop from two meters to one meter. If the distance is less, barrier measures must be applied. No more than 10 people or people from three different households will be allowed to gather around one table.
Group reservations will also be permitted for an unlimited number of participants, but they’ll have to remain seated at their table with the 10-person, three-household rule in effect.
Patrons, however, will still be required to present their vaccine passports and wear masks when moving around inside.
“These measures bring a bit of fresh air to Quebecers,” Dubé said in a news release. “We’re advancing prudently towards a return to normal, but prudence is a must.”
For bar and restaurant owners the new measures couldn’t come soon enough.
“We have a really big capacity — at least 200, 300 people — and we always have like sometimes to refuse people,” said Laura Clemente. who works as a waitress at Club Español in Montreal.
“In the summer it was really hard so I’m really happy to know that we can accept groups also.”
Many had been clamouring for change ever since the government announced that entertainment venues like the Bell Centre, which can accommodate 21,302 spectators, would see their capacity restrictions lifted on Oct. 8.
“I feel like we’re being singled out. I’ve been 40 years in this business. This isn’t right,” Colleen Souva of Montreal’s Brasserie Manoir said at the time.
And while the new guidelines will certainly provide some relief to businesses still trying to recover from months of lockdown, it might not be enough for others.
Dance and karaoke bars will not be getting much of a reprieve, as the ban on dancing and singing remains in place.
“I think Montréal is ready for a full opening,” said Diane Kim-Lim, who was dining at Club Español Thursday evening.
“I think that we’ve been testing it through the summer and it seems to work with the vax-pass. Everybody is kind of respecting the laws and what’s in place.”
— with files from Global News’ Tim Sargeant, Gloria Henriquez and The Canadian Press