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Dr. David Kaiser, a Montreal public health official, is concerned about the transmission of COVID-19 in bars and is recommending patrons get tested for the virus.

“There are at least five bars in Montreal which have reported cases of COVID-19 among patrons or staff and we’ve identified eight people who have been infected,” Kaiser said. “We know there are probably more cases out and we want to get out in front of this before we find ourselves dealing with a second wave.”

To get a better idea of the extent of the potential problem, Kaiser is asking anyone who has been in a bar since July 1 be tested.

Kaiser’s recommendations come a few days after the provincial government responded to an outbreak traced to a South Shore bar and imposed new guidelines, which included a limit on the number of patrons, a midnight last call, a prohibition on dancing and a requirement patrons remain seated.

Kaiser said bar owners have been cooperating with Montreal public health officials because they realize the importance of keeping  patrons and staff healthy.

Kaiser said bars pose more problems than restaurants. He noted the layout of most bars allows for mingling and people might be less likely to follow the rules on social distancing after a few drinks.

The city has the power to intervene if there are continuing problems with an individual bar, but Kaiser said if there was a wide-scale problem in the industry, the city would have to take its concerns to the province for action.

In a tweet on Saturday evening, Mayor Valérie Plante echoed Kaiser’s advice and urged all Montrealers who have been to bars since July 1 to get tested.

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