COVID-19: Quebec eases capacity restrictions for sports, cultural venues with assigned seating

Quebec is loosening some COVID-19 restrictions for sports and cultural venues with assigned seating starting next month, the province’s health minister said Thursday.

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Christian Dubé unveiled the latest change to the government’s public health rules during an update on the pandemic’s fourth wave.

“We want Quebecers who are adequately vaccinated to be able to find a bit of normalcy,” he said.

Facilities with assigned seating will be able to operate at full capacity as of Oct. 8. The new rules apply to cinemas, theatres, conferences and graduation ceremonies, as well as Montreal’s Bell Centre in time for the Habs first home game next month.

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There are some restrictions, though. Spectators must show proof of vaccination and masks will be mandatory to access venues operating fully.

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Groupe CH, the organization behind the Montreal Canadiens, said in a statement it is “delighted with the provincial government’s decision.” It pledged to uphold other sanitary measures in place to curb the spread of the virus.

CF Montreal also welcomed the news in a statement, saying it will allow the soccer club to play its remaining games at Saputo Stadium at full capacity as of Oct. 8.

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Culture Minister Nathalie Roy also announced that orchestras and choirs will be able to accommodate up to 100 people on stage. Singers and anyone who plays a wind instrument must maintain a two-metre physical distance from others, while other musicians must be at least one metre apart.

Dubé said the province fared well throughout the month of September, which he had previously described would be “decisive” during an evolving fourth wave of the health crisis.

The health minister added it is too early to declare victory in the fight against COVID-19 or to lift the 10-person indoor gathering limit inside private homes.

Dubé also urged those who have not yet rolled up their sleeves to go get their novel coronavirus vaccine, saying October will also be a challenge in the context of the pandemic.

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with files from The Canadian Press

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