Fines, closed establishments, suspended permits, and even a complete reconfiguration of the bar sector: the Legault government is studying all the options to ensure that the “incidents” of last weekend will not happen again in the future.
“What I have seen in the past few days is not acceptable,” said new health minister Christian Dubé on Monday. “I want to be clear: the offenders will have to be punished, and we will not hesitate to close establishments” in the event of a repeat offense.
At his side, the national director of public health, Horacio Arruda, said he did not want to “punish everyone.” But if bars become media of transmission, it is clear that we will stop them. In English, he stressed that he was able to play the role of the bad boy who made difficult decisions. “I’m telling you, if people don’t do what they’re supposed to do … I’ll be the bad boy. “
The two have however repeatedly stressed that Quebec and public health especially want customers and bar owners to comply with the health guidelines for this sector. The past weekend has been marked by various transgressions in different establishments – crowded dance floors, disrespectful social distancing: the “party” has broken up here and there, and Quebec wants to break it.
“This is not what we want to do [confiner le secteur], but we can just look at what is happening in certain American states “to understand the collateral effects of this kind of behavior, argued Christian Dubé. “There is no question of a minority of offenders putting Quebec’s health or recovery at risk. “
Dubé therefore asked his deputy to submit a list of recommendations by Thursday to “see what needs to be done, or changed” in the directives already in place. Representatives of public security informed the minister of the difficulty of enforcing rules deemed “a little vague”.
Several interlocutors are involved. The Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux will see if it is possible to suspend licenses if the rules are not followed. The CNESSST (Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work) will look at what fines could be distributed to owners. Public Safety will do the same for clients.
As for Public Health, it is consulted to consider the ultimate solution: “see if it is necessary to reconfigure the bars”, according to Mr. Dubé.
The latter promised “very clear steps” for the future. “We are thinking about several limitations: number of people per establishment, tight opening hours, obligation of seats, etc.”
If the press conference focused on the bar sector, Christian Dubé stressed that his message was also addressed to owners of commercial terraces, beaches, and swimming pools, as well as to race officials.
The New Association of Bars of Quebec (NABQ) quickly welcomed the government’s intentions. The President, Pierre Thibault, thanked MM. Dubé and Arruda “for having quickly taken the situation in hand with regard to the overflows observed in certain establishments. “
Sunday, Mr. Thibault said to the Duty that “you can’t crush the whole industry because of a handful of delinquent owners.” In particular, he suggested closing clubs and nightclubs in Quebec (where social distancing would be de facto more difficult to maintain) in exchange for financial assistance to owners.