This article was updated on May 8, 2020.
Gradual reopening of businesses
The Québec government announced that economic activity will resume in the next week or so in the following three business sectors — retail, manufacturing and construction, as follows:
- May 4, 2020: Reopening of retail stores with exterior doors normally used by customers. This applies to stores located outside of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (Montréal Metropolitan Community, CMM) territory. This excludes shopping centres, unless the business has a door to the outside that is normally used by customers.
- May 11, 2020: Reopening of all construction sites (residential, civil engineering and roads, institutional, commercial and industrial) and manufacturing companies in all regions of Québec (with a maximum of 50 workers, plus another 50% of the employees at organizations with more than 50 workers).
- May 25, 2020:
- Reopening of retail stores with exterior doors normally used by customers and that are located within the CMM territory. This excludes shopping centres unless the business has a door to the outside ordinarily used by customers. Please note that due to the number of hospitalizations in Montréal and the shortage of healthcare workers, this reopening originally scheduled for May 11 has been postponed to May 25. It remains to be seen whether the reopening of businesses on the CMM territory will take place as planned.
- Manufacturing companies will be able to resume operations at full capacity without restrictions on the number of employees.
For sectors not covered by the reopening plan, the list of priority services and activities continues to apply. You can read our article on this subject by clicking here. [Link to our article on this subject.]
Applicable sanitary measures
The CNESST (Commission des normes, de l'équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail) drafted several workplace sanitary guides applicable to the sectors allowed to resume their activities mentioned above. These measures will also apply to all businesses as soon as they resume their activities. Here is a summary of the main obligations set out in these guides:
- Exclusion of symptomatic individuals from the workplace: Workers with symptoms of COVID-19 should be identified prior to entering the workplace (questionnaire, self-assessment). In the event that symptoms appear while in the workplace, the employer must isolate the worker in a room reserved for this purpose.
- Physical distancing: Employers and workers must maintain two metres of physical distancing. It will be particularly important for them to comply with these measures during breaks and lunchtime. In the event that physical distancing cannot be practised, the CNESST provides that adjustments must be made, as follows:
- Encouraging remote work;
- Installing physical barriers between work stations (with Plexiglas partitions);
- Reviewing work organization (arranging the smallest and most stable possible teams, reducing the number of workers, avoiding in-person meetings, avoiding sharing objects, and limiting outings and trips to the bare minimum);
- Supplying protective equipment (masks, gloves, visors…).
- Maintenance of hygiene measures for tools, equipment and frequently touched surfaces: Given that the virus responsible for COVID-19 can survive on surfaces, employers must clean equipment and common surfaces frequently. To this end, the CNESST guide provides compliance measures for employers. They must:
- Ensure efficient operation and maintenance of ventilation systems;
- Clean and disinfect sanitary facilities after each shift and daily;
- Clean and disinfect meal areas after each meal and daily;
- Clean all touched surfaces in common areas after every shift, such as tables, counters, doorknobs, toilets, telephones, computer accessories;
- Clean tools and equipment (after every shift or after they have been shared).
Reopening of educational institutions and daycares
As of April 27, 2020, the Québec Minister of Education and Higher Education and the Minister of Families announced the reopening of educational institutions and daycares. This multi-week plan includes the following:
- May 11, 2020: Reopening of daycares as well as preschools and elementary schools in all regions of Québec except those in the CMM.
- May 25, 2020: Reopening of daycares as well as preschools and elementary schools in the CMM. Please note that due to the number of hospitalizations in Montréal and the shortage of healthcare workers, this reopening originally scheduled for May 19 has been postponed to May 25.
- Fall 2020: high schools, CEGEPs and universities will not be allowed to resume their activities before the start of the Fall 2020 school year.
It should be noted that parents will not be obliged to send their children to school and that the reopening will depend on the evolution of epidemiological data. In order to ensure the safety of workers and children, the Government is planning to introduce numerous health and hygiene measures, including the reorganization of educational institutions activities and the reorganization of premises.
Withdrawal of checkpoints in the regions
In the wake of the resumption of economic and educational activities and as a logical next step, the vice-premier announced on April 29, 2020, a plan to gradually lift travel restrictions to some regions.
As of today, access will be allowed to the following regions:
- May 4, 2020: the Laurentides health region (the Antoine-Labelle, Argenteuil, Pays-d'en-Haut and Laurentides regional county municipalities), the Lanaudière health region (the territories of the Autray, Joliette, Matawinie and Montcalm regional county municipalities), the Chaudière-Appalaches health region (the territories of the Bellechasse, L'Islet and Montmagny regional county municipalities) and the Abitibi-Témiscamingue health region (Rouyn-Noranda).
- May 11, 2020: the Outaouais health region (except for trips from Ottawa to Gatineau), the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Abitibi-Témiscamingue health regions, and the Mauricie et Centre-du-Québec health region (La Tuque population centre).
- May 18, 2020: the Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine and Côte-Nord health regions (except for the Minganie and Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent [Basse-Côte-Nord]) and the Capitale-Nationale health regions (the territories of the Charlevoix and Charlevoix-Est regional county municipalities).
For the time being, no reopening is planned for the following regions and territories: Gatineau (for travel from Ottawa to Gatineau); the Minganie and Golfe-du-Saint-Laurent (Basse-Côte-Nord); Nord-du-Québec; Nunavik and Cree Territory of James Bay.