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When will businesses and schools reopen in Quebec?

Here's what you need to know about Quebec's plan to reopen its businesses and schools in May.

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In a much-anticipated briefing by Quebec's provincial government on Tuesday, April 28, Premier Legault, Minister of Economic Development Pierre Fitzgibbon and the National Director of Public Health Horacio Arruda began to detail the province's plan to gradually reopen businesses both in the metropolitan area of Montreal and in the province of Quebec as a whole.

That day's laid-out plans, however, have shifted somewhat. During a press conference on May 4, Legault noted that the margin of error for deconfinement is "very small".

Throughout the month of May, the city should see a gradual reopening of three sectors: Manufacturing, construction, and retail stores that are not located inside of shopping centres and malls and have curbside entrances.

"We need our entrepreneurs," said Legault during April's conference, but not before emphasizing the importance of social distancing—staying six feet apart from one another—as the city moves forward. "The goal is to reopen gradually to see if there is an impact on contagion, if there is an impact on our hospitals."

For retail: 

On May 4th across Quebec—except the metropolitan area of Montreal—businesses that are not in shopping malls and have an exterior entrance will be able to begin opening their doors. This will allow 196,000 Quebeckers to go back to work, minister Fitzgibbon noted. Montreal is set to follow on the 25th of May in Montreal. 

For construction and civil engineering:

With regard for roadwork and infrastructure,  gradual reopening will be done across the province beginning on the 11th of May. 

For manufacturing:

Citing the preexisting importance of sanitation in the manufacturing sector, it was announced that all manufacturing companies will be able to resume activities on May 11, but with the restriction that only 50 employees will be allowed to work at one time. Only half of a company's workforce that are over the age of 50 will be allowed to return at the beginning, and those restrictions would be lifted on May 25th.

For schools in Quebec:

Hot on the heels of the April 27th briefing, the premier gave a broad overview of reopening of some of Quebec's schools, saying "life must go on." On May 11th, elementary schools and daycares are expected to begin opening in stages, with outside of the greater Montreal region opening first (ie. the rest of Quebec), followed by schools on the island of Montreal, Laval and in surrounding suburbs on May 25.

Attendance to these schools, as was pointed out constantly in the briefing, will not be mandatory and children who do not attend school should not see any consequences from not attending.

As for later grades like high schools, as well as colleges and universities, they won't be reopening until late August.

That announcement didn't come without a lot of questions that remain to be answered in detail: Will children be regularly tested? Will reduced class sizes be effective in stemming any spread (if any) among students?

Citing the potential for serious, long-term issues stemming from young children staying out of school for too long—especially those who could benefit from access to teachers with an in-depth understanding of learning disabilities—Legault stated that this reopening is occurring as "the situation is under control" in hospitals, and this is all contingent on 

The overall picture:

While Montrealers and Quebeckers are eager to see a reopening of the province, all of these sectors could be subject to being closed again all over again if this gradual reopening results in another outbreak, Public Health Director Horacio Arruda noted. 

As for the specifics regarding employees' personal comfort with a return to work, the government deemed that precise protocols will be eventually released.

Don't think this is going to affect public gatherings any time soon, however: Bans on public gatherings will remain in effect until further notice.

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