How it was like to live in Montréal during COVID-19.
It wouldn’t be fair to talk about 2020 without storytelling a bit about how COVID-19 went down around me. I know people only know what’s in their country so I am going to try to describe the best I can what we lived in Canada – well Montreal because we were the worst city to be in Canada.
I heard many time from people in France “You are lucky to be in Canada right now“. Well, let me tell you, it is not that fun at all.
It all started mid March when Montréal went into a full rushed lockdown. Everything closed two days after the announcement of the new rules. People lining up at Costco, Walmart, Canadian tire. Toilet paper and flour out of stock everywhere. We couldn’t be with people outside our homes. Like in the streets we were two meters and more appart. As it was March, you can guess the weather was not great also so going to parks were not really a thing. All the ski station closed early season. Restaurants, bars, hair dressers, shops… Everything closed. For a month, the city and Quebec was as if someone pressed pause.
Everyone has to wear masks everywhere except in the streets. In every shop you would wash your hands before entering. Line ups everywhere.
If you were surprised visiting a friend at a friend’s place (even if you and him or her lives alone) or in the street, cops could give you a ticket for it. We had friends who got a ticket… It was 1600$ each.
It was nice to have a break from the busyness of my life though. I was always out, doing something, trying something, eating out. I was forced to stay home and focus. I stressed ate too because that is what I do. I gain weight and it is hard to loose when you have a yoga mat space in you bedroom to practice. But anyway. The first month was stressful as governments and we learned to understand what was that virus. I cleaned everything after doing shopping (even the ingredients, my clothes…). I tried to not go out too much. I didn’t see anyone except my roommates until late April.
As summer approached, rules in Montréal opened a bit. By June we could meet people in parks as long as we were 2 meters appart. Couples could be together too – because before that, if you were a couple not living together, you couldn’t. Travelers coming back from anywhere had to stay for 14 days in a closed house/flat/hotel, if you had COVID-19 or if you were in contact you had to do so too. You could actually get a ticket if you were (and this is still current) not at your place during the quarantine. And it is not cheap. It could go very high. I heard of friends with 50 000$ tickets for not being at their place when the cops checked. Bars and restaurants were allowed to open but half capacity only. If they had an outside terrace it was better.
Regarding going outside of the city, it was not recommended because you could bring the virus in other places where they don’t have the hospital capacities that we have in Montréal. So I didn’t go much outside the city. All the campings were booked anyway. It was crazy because all the people that used to go away for the summer, they stayed in Quebec. Lots of tourists went to Gaspesie and trashed it. They thought doing free camping was ok and that is was even ok to leave their trash behind them. Someone else is going to clean it up for them right? UGH. That annoyed me so much. Because of that kind of comportment, free camping will be so hard from now on.
Anyway. By mid July I think, we could “gather” outside if we were 10 or less people. In Montréal, in summer, it’s time for barbecues in parks anyways! It was kind of as if life went on but no foosball, less bars (I think I went three times in the whole summer maybe). People were not hugging anymore, not kissing on the cheek either. I guess the police went a little easy on people as if we already were 5 months in this thing and it was hard on everyone’s mental health. Also. We all knew winter would come back soon enough.
We all thought COVID-19 was almost vanquished by August. There were almost no cases. I think for like one or two days we had around 0 case. I even went on a 10 days vacation in Ontario (check here for picture), but we took my car and we stayed in campings or motel rooms, not seeing too many people and respecting the rules.
But then, in September, after schools reopened (yeah right, they said it’s not the schools but timing is weird to not be a factor), cases went up again and Quebec went into a harsh second wave that is still happening now in December.
Mid-October, they closed all the bars and restaurants again. We could not see friends anymore, except if you lived alone you could see one friend at a time. For a 21 days period they said. Well, history will tell you that they are still closed today and until the 11th of January (at least). Quebec told us we would have a “Christmas break” where we could see up to 10 people for 4 days but the week after they went back on their words and it got worse. We would be on full lockdown from the 26th of December until the 11th of January. Full lockdown meaning the above plus the fact that non essential shops would be closed (hair dressers, decoration stores, plants shops…). Even sections of stores that could be opened but that would sell non essential things would be closed.
Well, that sounds like a great end of the year, doesn’t it?
So to all the people in France saying it’s better in Canada right now. Please make sure to read this before coming here or you will be disappointed. Yes, maybe in France you needed papers to go outside your houses, but at least you had a break from lockdown during the summer. It was as if COVID-19 didn’t exist. Here, we have been in a lockdown mode (more or less strict) since March. Nine months. Almost a year. And I can tell you, winter coming and the holidays spent alone or with one person is not that easy.
I could have gone back to France thing the risk of contamination and giving it to my family (which I would not have done) but then I would have had to stay inside for 14 days after that. I don’t know what’s worse.
Well, that’s sums up about it I think. How was COVID-19 for you? I know Aussie and NZ got rid of it easily and I am so jealous right now… I am seriously considering moving for a while there until things calm down around Canada!
I hope you all are safe and taking care of each others.