Restaurant and bar owners, and the greater business community in Lachute are eager to get back to business, with the announcement of a reduction in COVID-19 restrictions.

As of May 28, the Laurentides region will become an orange zone on Québec’s regional system of COVID-19 restrictions, which means restaurants and bars will be able to offer outdoor dining on patios. The news comes as a relief to dining establishment owners throughout Argenteuil, who were only able to offer delivery and take out during the most recent provincial lockdown.

“We’ve been struggling for a while now,” said Christine Berubé, owner of des Menus plaisirs bistro on rue Principale in downtown Lachute.

Berubé has owned the restaurant for three years, and also operates a catering and meal delivery business in Lachute.

During the winter, all eight of Berubé’s restaurant employees were laid off. Four of them eventually returned, and they will all soon be back to work when the patio opens and indoor dining resumes on a limited basis.

“I’m a lucky one because all of my staff is coming back,” she said.

Bérube hopes people do not get too ahead of themselves and ignore COVID-19 restrictions because she does not want another wave of cases. She also insisted she will be strict with the rules on distancing and limits of people when patio and indoor dining does resume. Restaurant owners will have to take the names and addresses of every indoor customer. Customers from outside the region will not be allowed to sit inside.

“Let’s hope for the best and have a great summer,” Berubé said.

“Restauranteurs are very happy about the announcement,” said Marie-Josée Lapierre, the Director-General of the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie d’Argenteuil (CCIA).

Lapierre said that as of May 31, indoor dining with two people per table will be permitted in the region, and by June 4, Argenteuil will become a yellow zone with eight people per restaurant table. If vaccination rates continue to increase and COVID-19 cases remain low, the region could be a green zone, with minimal restrictions as of June 28.

Businesses have also struggled during the pandemic according to the Chambre de commerce’s Director-General.

“It’s not just bars and restaurants – all have been impacted by these closures,” Lapierre said, noting other businesses on rue Principale in Lachute and throughout Argenteuil will benefit once customers are allowed to sit on patios or indoors at restaurants and bars.