Patrons and staff toast relaxed rules for bars and restaurants

“I hope it lasts — that this change stays and there won’t be any more surprises.”

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The sun was shining through Vices & Versa’s large front windows and onto a cozy table for two, where Omer Moussaly and Aida Vosoughi sat enjoying a Monday afternoon beer.


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It was the first day of the province’s bars, restaurants, taverns and casinos being allowed to welcome customers at full capacity, and resume normal operating hours. Certain health measures will remain in effect. Patrons still have to present their vaccine passports upon entry, remain seated, and wear a mask while moving about. There is a maximum of 10 people, or residents of three households, per table. And there must be a distance of at least one metre between tables, or dividers between tables when that’s not possible.

“It feels good,” Moussaly said of the looser measures. “I hope it lasts — that this change stays and there won’t be any more surprises. It’s good for businesses. I went out with friends the other day, and all kinds of bars and pubs have closed because of what happened. We have to try to drink more at those that are left.”


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Vosoughi said she will feel just as safe now that more people can be at bars and restaurants.

“This time last year, in my network, everyone was depressed because of the restrictions,” she said. “So I think this is important.”

At the back of the bar, Paul Edsall, his wife Vivi Nguyen and their friend Annabel Pineda had found a quiet corner.

“It feels very safe coming from the States, where people are not required to show vaccine passports,” Edsall said. He came up from Ann Arbor, Michigan, two months ago to be with Nguyen while she deals with immigration procedures so she can join him in the U.S.

“With the vaccine passport, (the relaxing of measures) kind of makes sense,” Nguyen added.

“I’m a bit skeptical,” Pineda said. “I hope things won’t regress because of it. But it’s good. We were one of the most restrictive places in the world. So let’s see how it goes.”


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Patrons at Vices & Versa bar in Little Italy enjoy the last rays of sun shinning into the bar on Monday Nov. 1, 2021.
Patrons at Vices & Versa bar in Little Italy enjoy the last rays of sun shinning into the bar on Monday Nov. 1, 2021. Photo by Pierre Obendrauf /Montreal Gazette

Vices & Versa manager Julie Lacroix said the looser regulations won’t change much in terms of business.

“If I have to keep barriers between everyone, that takes up space. People still have to keep their distance, so we didn’t add that many tables. It’s fake news. People can’t be standing, and we have to keep one metre between tables or have a barrier, which takes up space, so we can’t be at full capacity.”

Over at Little Italy’s Pizzeria Dante, Claudia Martinez, her husband Wendy Guerrero and her sister Claudia were helping their mother Myriam Garcia celebrate her 75th birthday. Garcia caught and recovered from COVID-19 a year ago, while hospitalized due to a broken hip. So the family figures they’re no worse off in a restaurant.


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“We go (out to eat) at least three times a week,” Claudia said, of her and her husband. “If people are vaccinated, I have no problem. Restaurants can be at full capacity.”

“It’s going to be a change, that’s for sure – a welcome change,” said waiter Alex Maru. The new rules won’t make things any less safe, he explained.

“We always take precautions. People disinfect their hands when they enter the restaurant. Everyone keeps their distance, and when they get up, they wear a mask.”

Downtown at Hurley’s Irish Pub, manager Rod Applebee said the new measures are better late than never.

“It’s about time,” he said, “with the Bell Centre being allowed 21,000 people a couple weeks ago , while we were still waiting.”

But he’s looking on the bright side. Like the fact that he may not have to make people wait in line on the weekends, as has been the case in recent months.


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And he, too, disputed the government’s “full capacity” claim.

“People still have to keep their distance inside,” Applebee said. “But I’m not arguing. We’re happy it’s happening.”

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