Gradual Resumption of Activities in Québec: The Latest Developments

June 22, 2020

As Québec moves toward economic reopening, the provincial government is releasing information about the gradual resumption of activities in various sectors as well as guidelines that will apply to each of those sectors. In this post, which will be updated regularly as developments occur, we discuss the latest developments on reopenings in Québec.

This post lists reopenings by their respective dates. Unless otherwise indicated, sectors and businesses that were part of the list of priority services and activities, as well as those listed as permitted reopenings under another prior date in this article, continue to be allowed to operate.

As mentioned previously, the ability to maintain the current schedule and move further along in the government’s deconfinement plan depends on the progression of the virus and the healthcare system’s ability to deal with it. New closings may occur if additional outbreaks of the virus arise which compromise the healthcare system’s ability to deal with it.

If a company’s activity is not listed on the government site dealing with the reopening of activities, and the company is uncertain as to whether it can resume their activities, it can fill out an online form, and an information officer of the Gouvernement du Québec will contact the company.

Rules on Gatherings

Outdoor Gatherings in a Private place

Since May 22nd, as provided for by order No.543-2020, outdoor gatherings in a private place are allowed if a) the people are occupants of the same address; b) a person receives a service or support from another person; or c) there are no more than 10 people gathered. It is strongly recommended that the gathered people come from no more than 3 different addresses and that the people who do not come from the same address try to keep a distance of two metres between them.

Indoor Gatherings in a Private Place

Since June 15th, outside of Greater Montréal, the RCM of Joliette and the City of L'Épiphanie, indoor gatherings in a private place are authorized with the same rules as those that apply to outdoor gatherings in a private place, as provided for in order No.615-2020. Since June 22nd, these gatherings are also permitted in Greater Montréal, the RCM of Joliette and the City of L'Épiphanie as was confirmed by order No.2020-047.

Outdoor Gatherings in a Public Place

Since May 22nd, as provided for by order No.543-2020, throughout Québec, outdoor gatherings in a public place are authorized if a) the people are occupants of the same address; b) a person receives a service or support from another person; or c) a minimum distance of two metres is maintained between people.

As with gatherings in private places, physical distancing rules do not apply to people from the same address. A mask or face cover is strongly recommended when physical distancing is not possible.

Indoor Gatherings in a Public Place

On June 15th, the government announced that as of June 22nd, indoor gatherings in public places will be permitted provided that no more than 50 people are gathered. In places where seated people will not have to move around for reasons other than getting in or out, such as classrooms, theatres and cinemas, a physical distance of 1.5 metres will be allowed, and only between spectators or users. In all other cases, and in places where there is increased traffic such as common areas or queues, the distance to be respected between people will remain at two metres.

As for gatherings in private places, physical distancing will not apply to people coming from the same address. A mask or face cover is strongly recommended when physical distancing is not possible.

Reopening Permitted on June 22nd

Restaurants within Greater Montréal, the MRC of Joliette and the city of L'Épiphanie, including those in food courts may reopen as was confirmed by order No.2020-047. The reopening of this sector is subject to a number of restrictions and requirements (see below).

Indoor sports facilities as well as public and private beaches will be able to reopen as was confirmed by order No.2020-047. Matches for team sports can also resume on the same date. The only sports for which no resumption date has been set are combat sports. It should be noted that all sporting activities will be subject to a number of rules and regulations. 

On June 16th, the government announced that places such as concert halls, theatres or cinemas may reopen. The reopening also includes work environments in which activities related to the performing arts are carried on, including venues where the arts are performed and broadcast as well as activities involving the recording of live performances before an audience. In all cases, the rules regarding gatherings in public places apply. These reopenings were confirmed by order No.651-2020.

NEW: Throughout Quebec, day camps and places of worship may also reopen as was confirmed by order No.2020-047.

Reopening authorized on June 19th

Shopping centres located in Greater Montréal and the MRC of Joliette may reopen. The reopening is subject to a number of restrictions and requirements including the number of customers within a store and a mall, solid partitions in front of cash registers, information booths and food court restaurant counters and food courts will only be open for take-out until June 22nd when restaurants in these areas will be permitted to reopen.

In addition, the suspension applicable to the following activities are lifted and are therefore allowed to resume or reopen:

  • Zoological gardens and aquarium;
  • Public gardens;
  • Artisan food producers and farms offering farm tourism activities, for their guided tourism activities;
  • Tourist reception and information sites;

The reopenings on June 19th were confirmed by order No.2020-045.

Reopening Permitted on June 15th

Personal care and esthetic service businesses (e.g. hairdressers and estheticians) located within Greater Montréal and the RCM of Joliette may reopen.

Restaurants outside Greater Montréal, the RCM of Joliette and the city of L'Épiphanie may reopen. The reopening of this sector is subject to a number of restrictions and requirements, including the requirement to arrange the places where meals are consumed, including dining rooms and terraces, in such a manner so as to encourage the maintenance of a physical distance (i.e. the two metres rule or physical barriers), a limitation on self-service areas (such as buffets) and a restriction on activities other than restauration (such as dance floors and musical performances). The reopening also applies to food courts in shopping centres that are authorized to open, provided they are set up in accordance with the conditions set by the public health authorities. Nightclubs and bars that do not serve food must remain closed. The rules applicable to gatherings in a private place apply to people gathered around the same table.

In addition, the suspension applicable to the following activities are lifted and are therefore allowed to resume or reopen:

  • Any community organization;
  • The Institut national du sport du Québec;
  • Racetracks, provided the public is not admitted;
  • Institutions and enterprises whose mission is to conduct research activities, and which were not already included in the list of priority services and activities;
  • Businesses providing direct services to the public and businesses, such as travel agencies;
  • Hall rentals to any person, establishment, company or other organization if such rental is necessary for the pursuit of their activities that have not been suspended by any order in council or by-law, provided that (a) each hall is arranged in such a way as to encourage the maintenance of a physical distance (i.e. the two metres rule or physical barriers), (b) the rules applicable to gatherings in a private place are applied to people sitting around the same table, and (c) the users cannot serve themselves directly from a buffet or a self-service counter;
  • A large portion of training activities subject to exceptions; and
  • The activities of courts of justice and administrative tribunals, arbitrators, mediators and conciliators that were not already on the list of priority services and activities.

The reopenings on June 15th were confirmed by order No.2020-044 and order No.615-2020.

Reopening Permitted on June 8th

Activities in the audiovisual production sector may reopen, including all filming activities, such as pre-production and post-production activities, regardless of the type of production.

The reopenings of the audiovisual production sector have been confirmed by order No.2020-042.  However, the order provides that the public may not attend indoor audiovisual production and filming and, in the case of outdoor audiovisual production and filming, that the public be subject to the rules applicable to outdoor gatherings in a private place.

Order No.2020-043 extends the reopenings in the sectors of outdoor activities, leisure or sports. The order authorizes the resumption of outdoor, leisure or sports activities, conducted outdoors, both in an organized and non-organized manner, provided these activities allow individuals to respect the two metres rule. However, beaches and activities that are practiced in water parks or in swimming pools or other spa pools are still not permitted. The order also allows the resumption of training leading to certification as a National Lifeguard Pool (even in indoor pools) by organizations.

Reopening Permitted on June 1st

Certain types of tourist accommodations may reopen, namely, camping establishments, outfitting establishments and marinas throughout Québec as well as tourist homes and principal residence establishments situated elsewhere than in the territories of Greater Montréal and the RCM of Joliette. Rentals are subject to restrictions and strict cleaning measures mentioned on the government site including one family per rental unit and a mandatory 24-hour pause between rentals, unless the unit has a capacity of 4 people or less and its flooring is of a hard surface (no carpets or other coverings).

Music and sound recording studios may reopen and the recording of live performances without an audience may resume.

Shopping centres outside Greater Montréal and the RCM of Joliette may reopen. The reopening of shopping centres is subject to a number of restrictions and requirements including on the number of customers within a store and a mall, solid partitions in front of cash registers, information booths and food court restaurant counters and food courts will only be open for take-out.

Personal care and esthetic services businesses located outside Greater Montréal and the RCM of Joliette as well as private health care services (which include dental care and therapeutic care) and pet grooming services located throughout Québec may reopen. The government has set out a list of examples of such activities on its site.

The June 1st reopenings were confirmed by order No.566-2020.

Reopening Permitted on May 29th

Public libraries and museums may reopen throughout Québec. There is, however, a number of limitations including on the number of visitors and on the ability to hold events and activities.

Drive-in theatres, for movies or any other type of show, may reopen, provided the public views the event from a vehicle.

The May 29th reopenings were confirmed by order No.566-2020.

Reopening Permitted on May 25th

Retail Stores and Retail Supply Chain Located in Greater Montréal

Retail stores with a direct exterior access normally used by customers and businesses in the supply chain of such retail stores located in Greater Montréal may reopen. For more, see our prior post.

Removal of Restrictions on Number of Employees for Manufacturers

The restriction on the number of employees per shift for manufacturers that were not already operating to produce priority services and activities, or inputs or raw materials required by priority services and activities, is removed.

The May 25th reopenings and removal of restrictions were confirmed by order No.539-2020.

Reopening Permitted on May 24th

As announced, the usual regulations regarding business hours apply again to commercial retail establishments currently authorized to operate in Québec. This effectively removed the changes to operating hours discussed in our prior post which restricted the ability to operate on Sundays and permitted the extension of business hours from Monday to Saturday for commercial retail establishments currently authorized to operate in Québec.

Reopening Permitted on May 20th

Throughout Québec, certain outdoor recreational sports, leisure and activities carried out individually or in pairs, without physical contact, are permitted. The government has set out a list of examples of such activities on its site.

Accordingly, pursuant to order No.530-2020, the suspension applicable to activities carried in work environments that offer outdoor, recreational or individual sports activities to the public, contact-free, conducted outside and in an unstructured manner, have also been lifted provided that:

  • those activities are not carried out in aquatic facilities, play structures or using training equipment available to the public;
  • those activities that take place during the course of the same day; and
  • persons who take part in those activities maintain as much as possible a minimum distance of two metres between them.

Reopening Permitted on May 11th

Manufacturing

All businesses in the manufacturing sector may reopen with a restriction, until May 25th, on the number of employees per shift for manufacturers that were not already operating to produce priority services and activities, or inputs or raw materials required by priority services and activities.

Construction

All construction worksites including roadwork and infrastructure and the industry’s supply chain may reopen.

The May 11th reopenings were confirmed by order No.505-2020.

Reopening Permitted on May 4th

Retail stores with a direct exterior access normally used by customers as well as businesses in their supply chain may reopen, provided that they are located outside Greater Montréal.

The May 4th reopenings were confirmed by order No.500-2020.

The Latest on Back to Work Health and Safety

As previously mentioned in our prior post:

  • Even as sectors reopen, all employees who can engage in teleworking must continue to do so;
  • People must maintain as much as possible a physical distance of two metres; and
  • All workplaces must comply with the health regulations issued by the public health authorities and the Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail(CNESST).

The CNESST has also issued specific guides and resources for each of the above sectors (though some are currently only available in French) as well as general guides and resources that are not sector specific.

DISCLAIMER: This publication is intended to convey general information about legal issues and developments as of the indicated date. It does not constitute legal advice and must not be treated or relied on as such. Please read our full disclaimer at www.stikeman.com/legal-notice.

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