As the Outaouais prepares to reopen, some businesses feel they've been left behind

·2 min read
The popular Nordik Spa-Nature in Chelsea, Que., will not be allowed to reopen Feb. 22 when the Outaouais returns to the orange zone under Quebec's colour-coded pandemic scale. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC - image credit)
The popular Nordik Spa-Nature in Chelsea, Que., will not be allowed to reopen Feb. 22 when the Outaouais returns to the orange zone under Quebec's colour-coded pandemic scale. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC - image credit)

While the Outaouais will return to the orange zone on Quebec's colour-coded pandemic scale on Monday, some business owners say they feel forgotten about and are frustrated they still can't welcome back customers.

Last week, Premier François Legault announced that western Quebec businesses such as restaurants and gyms could reopen their doors on Feb. 22, albeit with restrictions.

The region's indoor pools and sports facilities will also be able to open Monday, ahead of a provincewide opening for the March Break.

But that doesn't include the popular Nordik Spa-Nature in Chelsea, Que., even though co-owner Daniel Gingras said his business wasn't linked to a single COVID-19 outbreak during the three months before the province shut down during the holidays.

"We're asking ourselves, why do we remain closed? It's inconsistent, especially if we compare ourselves to gyms, restaurants, cinemas," said Gingras, also a member of the Association québécoise des spas, in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada.

"We've invested a lot of money in our facilities and also in our way of doing things, with masks and reservations. And that plan had been approved by public health in Quebec, so we don't understand why we can't reopen now."

Group classes not permitted

Sylvie Lavarière, who runs aqua-fitness classes in Papineauville, Que., also feels the remaining restrictions aren't fair.

Although swimming pools can welcome back individuals, couples and people from the same household, group lessons won't be permitted.

Lavarière said it doesn't make sense that the region's gyms can reopen while her classes remain prohibited.

"It's sad, because doctors have taken the trouble to explain to the government that it is beneficial for people to get exercise in chlorinated water," Lavarière told Radio-Canada in French.

"Our clients are over 40. They don't go to the gym, don't have many other options."

Although some restrictions are loosening in the Outaouais, a provincial curfew remains in place from 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m.