04/28/2020 15:55 EDT | Updated 04/28/2020 16:12 EDT

Quebec Will Gradually Reopen Starting With Retail, Construction And Manufacturing

The province says they won't hesitate to restore restrictions if COVID-19 cases get worse.

MONTREAL — Premier Francois Legault says most Quebec stores as well as companies operating in construction and manufacturing will gradually be allowed to reopen in the coming weeks.

Under the plan, stores outside Montreal can reopen next Monday while those in the greater Montreal region will reopen May 11. Stores in shopping malls will remain closed, unless they can be accessed from outside.

Legault says the reopening of stores and other businesses will depend on physical distancing rules being respected.

“Our challenge is to gradually restart the economy without restarting the pandemic,” Legault told reporters in Quebec City.

Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS
Quebec Premier Francois Legault shows a graphic relating to COVID-19 deaths during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Tuesday, April 28, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City.

He said the process will be staggered.

“The idea is to gradually add workers and analyze the effect on the contagion,” he said. “But one thing is clear: If we want our plan to work, we need to continue our efforts of physical distancing, and we need to continue to protect the most vulnerable.”

Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said 1.2 million Quebecers have had to temporarily stop work since the province was put “on pause” last month to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

He said the situation is stabilizing in most regions, and the measures announced Tuesday were drafted in consultation with organizations responsible for public health and worker safety.

A man practices social distancing as he helps a visually impaired woman Tuesday April 28, 2020 in Montreal.

Fitzgibbon warned that if COVID-19 trends worsen, he won’t hesitate to restore the restrictions.

Under the plan, manufacturers will resume operations beginning May 11 with initial limits on the number of employees. He said the construction industry will completely reopen starting May 11.

The recovery strategy for businesses comes a day after Premier Francois Legault announced elementary schools and daycares across the province would be reopened by May 19.

The province has reported 25,757 cases of COVID-19 to date and 1,682 deaths, more than half the national total.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2020.