Fresh Takes

The economy holds its breath

For several days now, we’ve been told that Montreal and Quebec City will soon be moving to the “red” alert level, referring to the unfathomable, technocratic, paint-by-numbers table handed down by public health authorities. While it is laudable that the government is now favouring regional measures adapted to the way COVID-19 is transmitted rather than opting for province-wide measures, the doubt that has prevailed for many days is harmful. It is unacceptable for the government to refuse to explain what the colour codes mean in concrete terms. Wasn’t the whole reason for this code to clarify matters?

On the contrary, this way of doing things has introduced a climate of tension for small retailers and restaurateurs. Note that restaurant revenues in the province have fallen by 34% compared to last year. Worse still: In Montreal, the month of July showed a 50% drop compared to July 2019.

The lack of clarity is such that the population is asking itself a whole slew of questions at the moment, of varying degrees of importance. Will we be able to invite a couple of friends over for supper for the long weekend? Will it be possible to visit a sick loved one in the coming days? Will I still have a job come the 5:30 news conference?

At the very least, the government owes us some explanations—not only about the measures that will be put in place, but also about their objective. Recall that in the winter, the goal was to avoid overwhelming the hospital system. It does not seem as though this is in the process of happening. There are therefore two questions to answer: What really justifies the proposed measures, and under what conditions could they be lifted?

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