Montreal food industry braces again, as government urges Quebecers to avoid socializing

A day after the Quebec government asked people to limit their social interactions for four weeks, Montreal's restaurant industry is bracing for another crushing blow.

“It feels like the first wave, that by allowing the room for restaurants and bars to stay open, it's a way of not having to offer us any compensation,” said Nicole Turcotte of Little Italy's Dinette Triple Crown. “In the meantime, we could be propagating the virus in a very dangerous way.”

On Friday, Health Minister Christian Dube urged Quebecers to avoid dinners, barbecues, parties and any other similar gatherings for 28 days, citing the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the province. While numerous regions of the province have upped their alert level to orange, which does allow bars and restaurants to remain open, public health director Horacio Arruda said it remains to be seen if that would continue should the alert level be raised to red, the highest level.

Almost 700 new cases of the virus were reported on Saturday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to over 71,000.

Along with the request to avoid socializing, the acceptable number of people at private gatherings has shrunk from 10 to household bubbles only. As a result, chef Marissa Leon-John said her catering contracts have once again dried up.

“This pandemic has been unpredictable, from one day to the next things have changed,” she said. “It's affected my industry and my business directly.”

Still, Leon-John said she understands why the new directives have been issued.

“Seeing the restaurants open is a little bit difficult, but the restaurants have their protocols,” she said. “The police are doing their checkups to make sure people are staying safe and when it can be monitored and controlled, I understand. Dinner parties can go crazy. Private events go crazy. We've seen the outbreaks at weddings, at regular family gatherings. I don't want to be a part of that.”  

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