Reopening of businesses
Quebec is now finalizing the reopening of its economy, which began over the past few weeks. During the June 25, 2020 press conference, Quebec's director of public health, Horacio Arruda, announced the reopening of most economic sectors. In doing so, Dr. Arruda stated that he was "rebutting the presumption" that applies to the suspension of economic activities. As such, we can consider that all workplaces can resume their activities, except for the following:
- Festivals and major events;
- Regular vacation camps with accommodation;
- Combat sports.
Order in Council No. 689-2020 therefore has the effect of repealing Order in Council No. 223-2020, which provided for the suspension of all non-priority activities carried out in work environments. As a result, amusement parks, water parks, spas, bars, casinos and gambling houses can resume operations, provided that health regulations are respected.
It should be noted that Order in Council No. 689-2020 reiterates that a person should maintain, to the extent possible, a distance of two metres from any other person.
Furthermore, the Order in Council also specifies that remote working from a private residence or its equivalent should be given preference when the work can be carried out remotely. To this end, the government states on its website that service firms may resume activities "that cannot be carried out through working from home."
As mentioned in our last update (link available here), government authorities announced that certain indoor gatherings of 50 people or less in public places would be allowed. The terms of Order in Council 689-2020 specify that it would be possible for that maximum amount of people to participate in such gatherings provided that they:
- be in attendance in a place of worship, courtroom, movie theatre or room in which performing arts are presented, including venues where the arts are performed and broadcast;
- attend an interior production or audio-video filming, interior recording of a performance or interior training session or amateur sports event;
- gather in any hall rented to any person, establishment, enterprise or other body, including community halls.
That said, physical distance requirements also apply to these gatherings.
For several weeks, public health authorities have been studying the possibility of making face coverings mandatory on public transit. Until now, wearing a mask in a public place was strongly recommended, particularly where physical distancing of two metres could not be respected. On June 30, 2020, the Quebec government finally came to a decision – wearing a face covering will be mandatory on public transit as of July 13, 2020 for commuters aged 12 years and over in all regions of Québec. This measure will not be accompanied by fines, but anyone not wearing a mask after July 27, 2020, will simply be denied access to public transport.
Screening and Epidemiological Assessments
The government is planning to increase public testing. In a broader sense, the aim is to take a regional approach. To this end, the Minister of Health and Social Services intends to establish an outreach plan for health care workers as well as regions bordering the United States.
On June 25, public authorities announced they would begin presenting data on the evolution of the pandemic on a weekly rather than a daily basis, due to the stabilization of the epidemiological situation. The following day, however, the Minister of Health and Social Services reinstated daily updates.