Stirrings of normalcy are greeting Montreal. Patios of restaurants now host conversations, city parks are once again met with the laughter of children as families create memories after an incredibly difficult year and a half. Once a stronghold for the pandemic, Quebec has seen over 375,000 people infected with COVID-19, resulting in over 11,200 deaths.
According to the City of Montreal, the downtown core had nearly a 90% drop in daily visitors, and downtown office buildings had occupancy of just 5-10% at the height of the pandemic.
Now in the green level of Quebec’s pandemic alert system, restrictions are eased as residents seek to enjoy the summer, the sunshine, and human interaction.
“It’s wonderful to see the city come back to life, to see friendly faces again, and to hear conversation and laughter,” said Montreal entrepreneur Shady Elhami.
The City of Montreal invested over $1.4 million to help local businesses that was spread evenly between six organizations: “The Conseil québécois du commerce de détail (CQCD), Culture Montréal, the Conseil d’économie sociale de l’île de Montréal (CESIM), The Conseil des Industries Bioalimentaires de l’île de Montréal (CIBIM), l’Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ) and l’École des entrepreneurs du Québec,” according to Montreal CTV News reporting.
Those organizations provided services to roughly 450 Montreal small and medium-sized businesses to keep them afloat and help them navigate the uncertain terrain of a COVID-influenced economy.
The bustling city of over two million people was so quiet over the winter, that it seemed little more than a ghost town, Shady Elhami pointed out. While he hopes the current trend toward keeping the pandemic at bay continues, Elhami also joins the legion of locals who are determined to savor summer experiences as the country again faces uncertainty thanks to the Delta variant. Many are concerned about what fall will bring.
The concern of the populace is largely echoed by the scientific and medical communities. According to MSN Global News reporting, while Canada’s current COVID-19 status is improving, the contagious nature of the Delta variant is causing the Public Health Agency of Canada to warn of a potential resurgence in the fall and winter, which could put hospitals overcapacity.
The Lambda variant, first detected in Peru, has also been found in Canada. Though only 11 cases have been detected thus far, the variant has earned the distinction of being placed on the World Health Organization’s “variant of interest” list according to City News 1130.
The existence of variants within Canada’s borders as provinces and cities begin to open up and people become more willing to venture out is causing division between health experts throughout the country. Some urge caution, while others say the declining infection rate is something to celebrate and embrace.
As it stands now, many in the bustling metropolis of Montreal are comfortable being outside in each other’s presence.
The British government noted scientific findings when it eased outdoor restrictions for Brits, according to The Sun. Alan Penn, professor and member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies told government officials that “sunlight and good ventilation can prevent transmission of coronavirus.”
For now, it seems that many Canadians are welcoming those findings and sharing laughter and good times in public open spaces.