Quebec announced its plan to reopen businesses Tuesday, with retail, construction and manufacturing companies set to open their doors next week. Premier François Legault said the numbers of new cases have been stable for the past two weeks, excluding those in long-term care homes. Based on this, the province has decided to reopen the businesses whose closures have affected the economy the most. Legault said progress will be monitored closely, and businesses will close again if there is a surge in the virus. “Our challenge is to gradually restart the economy without restarting the pandemic,” he said.
Retail businesses, except stores in shopping malls with no outside entrances, can open May 4, except for those in Montreal, which can reopen May 11. This includes retaiuel supply chain businesses.
All construction activity can resume May 11, but related administration work must continue to be done remotely.
Manufacturing companies can resume May 11, with strict limits. Staff are limited to 50 workers plus 55% of employees exceeding 50 workers. On May 25, these restrictions will be lifted.
Protective measures to ensure public health measures including physical distancing will remain in place and will be enforced by workplace health and safety authorities (CNESST), the Quebec government said. Here is a link to some helpful CNESST Tools also.
All these sectors are subject to being closed again, should reopening result in uncontrollable outbreaks, said Public Health Director Horacio Arruda. Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon added that people who are able to work from home are to continue to do so. “That will help minimize the spread of the virus, and it will help minimize climate change,” he added.
Legault stressed that reopening certain parts of the economy does not mean people should drop physical-distancing measures or begin to gather in groups once again. “Continue to act as if everybody you meet has the virus,” Legault said. “Be prudent, and that way we will gradually be allowed to return to a normal life.”
On Monday, Legault announced that elementary schools and daycares outside of Montreal will begin reopening May 11 and in the city on May 19 but only if the state of COVID-19 in the province’s hospitals continues to remain stable. Schools and daycares outside the Montreal region will open on May 11; elementary schools in the Montreal region will follow suit eight days later, opening on May 19. Class sizes will be limited to 15 students in order to make it easier to respect social distancing directives in schools, Legault said. Daycare workers will be asked to wear masks when those institutions reopen, the premier added. Legault reiterated that parents can choose whether or not to send their children back to schools when they are open. Children with health problems, or whose parents have health problems, should stay home, Legault said.
High schools, CEGEPS and universities in the province will not reopen until end of August/September, Legault added, noting that older students use public transit more frequently and could contribute to overcrowding on buses and metros.