Your guide to what’s reopening in Montréal

Jamie O'Meara

Jamie O'Meara is Editor-in-Chief at C2 Montréal and the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.

This article was updated on July 13, 2020.

    Montréal is reawakening in spectacular fashion, the city and its inhabitants beginning to spread their wings again, albeit it in the safest of ways possible. Let the following be your guide to finding out what Montréal arts and culture hotspots, markets and restaurants, entertainment attractions, sports and leisure activities and other local businesses are open (or almost open) as you begin re-exploring the giant playground at your doorstep.

    Updates and announcements

    On June 25, 2020, public health authorities announced that all businesses and sectors may now resume activities (with three exceptions) under the condition that public health protocols are followed for their respective activities. The three sectors that remain prohibited due to the risk they represent for the spread of the virus are: 

    • festivals and large events
    • vacation camps with overnight stays
    • combat-related sports activities

    As of July 13, 2020, masks or face coverings are mandatory for all users of public transit in Montréal over the age of 12. 

    Starting July 18, 2020, masks or face coverings will be mandatory in indoor public places throughout the province of Quebec. This measure includes businesses, boutiques, grocery stores, pharmacies, shopping centers, cinemas, performance halls, common areas of establishments and office buildings and public transit.

    Restaurants and bars

    The good news… nay, the great news is that restaurants in Montréal were given the green light to open their dining rooms and terrasses on June 22. You can kick start your patio season at any of the Experience Old Montréal restaurants, who have just announced the reopening of some of locals’ favourite eateries and rooftop terrasses. All restaurants will have to make a determination as to how many patrons can be served both inside and outside in order to respect the two-metre physical distancing rules, unless the patrons come from the same private residence or there is a physical barrier between them. Many Montréal restaurants continue to offer takeout and delivery service. Bars have been allowed to reopen since June 25, although they must respect the same sanitary protocols as restaurants and patrons must be seated - no dancing or standing at the bar. All bars must now close at midnight.

    Gaming establishments like the Casino de Montréal can now open as well, with the same safety protocols as for other businesses.

    Hotels and spas

    While many large hotels in they city remained open with reduced staff and services throughout the crises, commercial lodging of all kinds, including bed-and-breakfasts and youth hostels, have the go-ahead to reopen to guests. All Montréal spas can now resume activities, applying social distance requirements and stringent disinfecting measures, of course. 

    Retail stores, malls and markets

    As of June 22, malls and shopping centres in Montréal were able to open, including their food courts, though mall managers will limit the number of clients in order to ensure that they are able to respect the two-metre distancing guidelines. This means that businesses typically found in malls that provide direct services – travel agencies, shoe repair shops, etc. – can all be open. Personal care services such as hair salons, barbershops, nail salons and tattoo parlours are also all back in business, with workers required to wear face masks and wash their hands frequently. The Québec government has asked that all stores install plexiglass shields at points of payment.

    All food stores, including major chains, were considered essential since the beginning, and remain open, and seasonal and public markets, such as Jean-Talon Market and Atwater Market, are also all open.

    Arts and entertainment

    With indoor gatherings of up to 50 people now permitted, cinemas, theatres, live music venues and other performance spaces can now reopen to audiences with special measures in place. I.e., patrons can be only 1.5 metres apart, as opposed to the usual two metres, if they’re in a seated space where there is no social interaction, such as a movie theatre. And physical distancing won’t be required for people coming from the same household. The government is considering raising the limit from 50 to 250 in later this summer.

    Water parks and amusement parks like the Six Flags amusement park La Ronde can now reopen, although there will be a limit to the number of visitors at a time and social distancing must be respected. When the thrills begin again, to meet health and safety guidelines, La Ronde may set up a reservation system where you book a time to go. Watch their website for details.

    Old Montréal and Old Port attractions

    One of Montréal’s liveliest areas, historic Old Montréal and the Old Port, is swinging back into action with the reopening of boutiques, restaurants, galleries, food trucks and some of the key attractions that make it such a strong summer draw. The Old Port kicked off its summer season on June 20 with the opening of attractions like the MTL Zipline & Quick Jump, Canada’s very first urban zipline circuit and the Voiles en voiles family adventure park. Quadricycle rentals, courtesy of Ecorécréo, are now available with hygiene measures in place, and you should ride your cycle over to the one-of-a-kind Marché des Éclusiers, which showcases the best local, eco-responsible products Québec has to offer. And right next door to the Marché is the very popular Bota Bota, spa-sur-l’eau, which got the okay to restart its massage therapy services on June 25. And in fantastic news for beach bums and sunbathers, the St. Lawrence River–facing Clock Tower Beach–is scheduled to reopen on July 3 (though The Clock Tower itself has no projected opening date as of yet). Maritime excursions will also be able to resume their activities starting July 1. La Grand Roue observation wheel and the Montréal Science Centre, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, should be announcing opening dates in the coming weeks.

    Old Montréal has been gradually reopening since May 25, with special attention to the wellbeing of residents, workers and visitors to the area. Restaurants, shops and attractions are applying new sanitary measures to keep everyone safe. History buffs can now visit the Château Ramezay, the prestigious 18th century residence and adjoining French colonial gardens. The Marguerite-Bourgeoys Historic Site (formerly called the Marguerite Bourgeoys Museum and Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel) has reopened its doors with a new exhibition called Meet Marguerite exploring how the legacy of this extraordinary woman continues to resonate around the world to this day. Culture and technology come together at the Phi Centre, known for its cutting edge digital and virtual art installations, which is launching two brand new summer exhibitions, a multitude of artistic initiatives, many of which will be free, and a series of rooftop concerts that started on June 24.

    Museums and culture

    Museums are now permitted to be open again, though guided tours, vernissages and other typical museum activities are still on hold for the time being. Physical distancing rules will be in place which means, if there’s any kind of slight silver lining to the whole situation, that no one will have to fight crowds to experience the art on display! Among notable reopenings are the McCord MuseumMusée d’art contemporain de Montréal, the Stewart Museum and the Pointe-à-Callière, Montréal Archaeology and History Complex.

    The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts is also open and is hosting an extended run of the Egyptian Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives exhibition, which now goes until June 28. Art lovers will enjoy the new Paris in the Days of Post-Impressionism: Signac and the Indépendants exhibition, which opens on July 4. Visitors are required to reserve a time slot for their visit by buying a ticket online on the MMFA’s website. Same goes at the city’s Space for Life, where the outdoor portions of the Botanical Gardens are open for business, though the indoor greenhouses and pavilions remain closed to the public. Visitors to the Gardens who are 17 and under will have free access until August 31. The Planetarium will remain closed until further notice, and the Biodôme and the Insectarium are both closed for major renovations.

    Montréal’s libraries are beginning to progressively reopen, with services like contactless returns and reservation pick-ups, although it still won’t be possible to use computers and printers or to circulate in the rows of bookshelves. 

    Parks, green spaces and pools

    Montréal’s parks are all open, and access is now authorized to Île Notre-Dame, including the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve and Parc Jean-Drapeau, two places that were practically designed with physical distancing in mind. And while the following parks are open, some parking lots may remain closed: La Fontaine, Maisonneuve, Jarry, Fréderic-Back, Parc-nature de l’Île-de-la-Visitation, Île Notre-Dame, Mount Royal and René-Lévesque. Check before going if you’re travelling by car. The city’s canine-friendly parks are also, thank dog, all open.

    Pools, wading pools, splash pads, beaches and other refreshment points (find their location) are in a case-by-case, gradual reopening phase, as are children’s playgrounds and play structures.

    Sports and leisure

    In super news for team sports enthusiasts, soccer and baseball teams are now allowed to be back out on their respective fields for pdistanced training sessions. Sports that have a high degree of physical contact, such as basketball, are not permitted to resume just yet. Yoga classes are also back on, too.

    Play is allowed on Montréal’s many outdoor tennis courts, but with some restrictions: only free-play singles matches are permitted, no lessons or training sessions are allowed, and players must mark their own tennis balls. The city’s outdoor skateparks, petanque courts and running tracks are also open. Those sports that were already permitted include golfing, cycling, jogging, rock-climbing, canoeing and kayaking. Check out this comprehensive sports and leisure FAQ for more info.

    Now enjoy all the amazingness Montréal has to offer!

    Jamie O'Meara

    Jamie O'Meara is Editor-in-Chief at C2 Montréal and the former Editor-in-Chief of alt-weekly newspaper HOUR Magazine.

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