Quebecers plan for summer staycation amid pandemic

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MONTREAL -- Summer for most is usually a time of relaxation and fun, but with COVID-19, the season will be different for most people.

Travel restrictions have grounded flights as well as vacation plans, and with local pools still closed, many Quebecers are turning to their backyards. 

At Club Piscine in Pierrefonds, the remaining inventory now matches the quantity recorded by July in a typical year. 

“People see a certain urgency,” Club Piscine Pierrefonds Director Matthew Lemire said. “You know when you come on the floor and we have a bunch of sold signs on things ... in a regular year we wouldn’t be delivering so many products to so many clients.”

Staff is taking extra precautions, and that means not only limiting the number of customers at a time in store, but smaller teams for home installation. Lemire says they are adjusting and working hard to meet the demand. 

NO CAMPING YET

There’s also a pull to the great outdoors. RV and camper dealers say they are seeing interest, but campgrounds are still off limits. The government says there’s a lot to work out before that’s on the table. 

On Thursday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced national parks would gradually reopen but only for locals during the daytime. 

“Reopening national parks, for example, on June 1 means that we know that you can’t prevent Canadians from going outside when the weather's nice. You just have to help them do it safely,” said Trudeau. 

In Quebec, some non-contact sports and activities have been given the green light starting May 20, but the province is still working on what to do about campgrounds—from shared resources to making sure people aren’t travelling from one region to another. 

“The tourism ministry is working to provide an offer as well that takes into consideration that, for now, we cannot have many people in the same place, so this is the kind of stuff they are regarding,” said Junior Minister of Education Isabelle Charest. 

But for those looking to relax close to home, Lemire says people are trying to adapt as best they can to a new normal. 

“Summer is around the corner,” said Lemire. “Kids are going to be at home. Kids are going to be driving parents crazy sometimes, so if they can burn as much energy in the backyard and the pool, that’s a goal for a lot of parents let’s just say.”

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