Gathering increase in Quebec too late for summer weddings, venue owner says
GATINEAU, QC. -- A Gatineau wedding venue owner says the provincial government's move to increase indoor gatherings to 250 people comes too late for the industry.
Indoor gatherings were limited to 50 people until Monday, when the limit officially increased to 250. The new rule applies to public places and not gatherings at private homes, which remain limited to 10 people.
Geoffroy Charbonneau, owner of La Gatineauthèque, tells CTV News Ottawa that he wishes this had been done sooner.
"If it would have been done in maybe the beginning of June or end of May, people would have considered adding more," he says.
Charbonneau, who also runs a catering company called Lindocile, says he has lost as much as 90 per cent of his revenue this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 150 weddings that were scheduled for this summer have been cancelled or postponed.
Charbonneau says he's had a few calls about adding some more people in the days since the government announced the increase in public gatherings, but not many.
"We had a lot of weddings, and a lot of them cancelled or postponed to next year and the ones we still had for this year, they stayed at 50 to 70 people," he says. "I have had a few people call and say we can invite 10 or 15 more than we had, but not as much."
Charbonneau says the increase may help in some cases, but he also feels most people still aren't ready to gather in such large groups again.
"It's going to help out for the smaller weddings to get a few people back in, important people that they had to cut off for the weddings that they have in the next few months, but most of them won't go up to 200 because most people are scared," he says. "You have three kinds of guests at weddings: the older ones, the middle ones, and the younger ones. I would say the older ones are a bit scared of what is going on and I don't think it is going to change a lot of numbers."
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business told CTV News Montreal it is pleased with Quebec's plan, but it doesn't guarantee profitability.
"Just because 250 people can get together doesn't necessarily mean it will happen. This requires a certain amount of organization in order to respect public health directives," said Gopinath Jeyabalaratnam, a senior policy analyst at the CFIB.
Not everyone agrees. Dr. David Zukor started a petition with several other doctors, calling on the Quebec government not to increase the gathering limit, saying the province is reopening too quickly.
"We, Quebec doctors urge the government to postpone the planned easing of restrictions especially allowing indoor gatherings of 250 people. We are in a period of increasing infections and this is not the time to be playing with fire," the petition says. "We must be proactive and prevent a second wave."
It has been signed by more than 6,000 people.
As of the most recent update from health officials in Quebec, there have been a total of 59,722 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province since the pandemic began, with 682 cases in the Outaouais region.
With files from CTV News Montreal digital reporter Amy Luft.