With the arrival of the summer season in full force, many people have already resumed their barbecues and the evenings outdoors on balconies, terraces and patios. But before inviting family and friends for barbecues or drinks, it is important to remember that the pandemic is still raging and as a result, many restrictions on gatherings remain in effect.
It will be remembered that in March 2020, the government had, among other things, banned "all indoor and outdoor gatherings", with some exceptions. With respect to outdoor gatherings, there were three exceptions:
a) The case of persons occupying the same private residence or what takes the place of such residence;
b) The case of a person receiving a service or support from another person;
c) The case of a gathering where a minimum distance of two metres is maintained between the persons gathered.
Outdoor gatherings in private places
Much has been made in the media about the "relaxation" of the rules at the end of May 2020. The government not only relaxed the March rules, but also added some that did not exist before!
In particular, the government has added rules regarding outdoor gatherings in a private place, specifying three cases where such gatherings are permitted:
a) if the persons assembled are occupants of the same private residence or of a private residence in lieu thereof;
b) if a person receives a service or support from another person;
c) if the persons assembled are no more than 10.
Two important things can be noted from the above: firstly, that the maximum limit of 10 persons is therefore an addition to the existing rules; and secondly, that the exception for a gathering where participants are separated by two meters for outdoor gatherings in a public place has not been included.
This means that outdoor gatherings in private places - such as the courtyard, patio or balcony of a private dwelling - are now "capped" at a maximum of 10 participants, regardless of the space or distance involved. This will be a factor to take into account before inviting the neighbourhood or in-laws to the barbecue!
Indoor gatherings in private places
On days when the sun is not shining and the living room is on the balcony, it should also be noted that since June 15, 2020, it is possible, outside the territories of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, the Regional County Municipality of Joliette and the City of L'Épiphanie, to hold a gathering in a private residence or in a private outdoor location, particularly in the following situations:
a) Where the persons assembled are occupants of the same private residence or of that which stands in its stead;
b) When the persons assembled are not more than 10.
As for the territories of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal, it had been announced by the government that these measures will apply as of June 22, 2020, although the decree to this effect had not yet been published at the time of going to press.
Flexibilities to come but not yet formalised
To finish, it should be noted that the government has since announced, on June 15, 2020, its intention to allow indoor gatherings of up to 50 people as of June 22, 2020, followed by an announcement on June 17, 2020, of the reopening of sports facilities (such as gymnasiums and swimming pools ) as of June 22.
The conditions for such gatherings and the use of such facilities remain unknown (the decree has not yet been published), and it is not clear whether they will be permitted throughout Quebec or whether this rule will come into force later for the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal. It will therefore be necessary to remain attentive to government decrees on this subject.