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What it’s like living in Montreal right now

We know that travel is especially difficult right now. But alongside the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates, we want to continue to inspire you with new travel content so that when the world opens its doors again, you'll be ready.

First of all, Hi everyone! I’m Jennifer but you can call me Jenny, and I’ve been proudly serving as the market editor for Skyscanner Canada’s news blog since 2018. In short, travel is my life. On top of exploring my home city of Montreal to discover my new favourite coffee shop, I’ve also experienced some of Canada’s most beautiful attractions from Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula to some beautiful hiking in North Vancouver. I’ve travelled to over 30 countries and I love sharing my stories, lessons, and tips with readers to inspire people to get out there and discover this magnificent world of ours.

Living during a pandemic in Montreal was not at all what I had pictured for 2020, but I’m grateful to share my unique experience in this city as we all deal with this unprecedented situation.

We can all agree that travel is particularly tricky right now. That being said, I am sure a lot of you guys are wondering what life is like in Montreal and the rest of Canada during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I am living life in Montreal amidst this pandemic and I’m here to report on everything happening on the ground from lockdown and quarantining, to adjusting to our new ‘normal’ daily life, and some tips on staying safe. Here’s my take on living during a pandemic in Montreal.

bikes parked at a bixi stand in downtown Montreal
Living during a pandemic — Bixi bike stand in Montreal

Daily life in Montreal during a pandemic

Are Montreal bars open? Can I go to a restaurant in downtown Montreal? What do people do to socialize during this pandemic? Keep scrolling for an overview of day-to-day life in Montreal, summer 2020 edition.

Living during a pandemic: A day in Montreal right now

Somehow the summer buzz of Montreal has managed to surface even during this pandemic 2020. Our eclectic locals continue to wander the streets of Montreal’s neighbourhoods, making the best of our outdoor spaces during the summer. The terrasse scene might be a little more low-key this year, but Montrealers are still finding ways to enjoy their 5 à 7 under the warm evening sun.

Construction workers are back, busy roads like St-Denis Street are closed off for pedestrian use in the downtown area, and outdoor patios are set up for appropriate physical distancing in bars across the city; Montreal has been able to keep its character throughout this pandemic year.

While Montreal suburbanites aren’t rushing to explore the attractions in the downtown area during the summer months like usual, parks like Mont-Royal and the bike paths along our Lachine Canal are filled with life. Physical distancing had to be enforced as Montrealers flooded green spaces like Beaver Lake when the weather started to warm up this spring, but I’ve gotten the sense that more people are adapting to this ‘new normal’. You can spot couples and small groups of friends (2 or 3 households maximum) sitting together in Jeanne Mance and Lafontaine Park, keeping a safe distance with other parties.

Biking in Montreal has always been a popular activity (and the main mode of transportation for many Montrealers) and this summer, bike riding has become everyone’s favourite daily activity. Bike shares like BIXI have never been so popular, and whenever I pass a BIXI station in the middle of the day most bikes will be taken.

a snapshot of life in Montreal right now. Pedestrian road St-Denis summer 2020
Living during a pandemic — Montreal’s St-Denis pedestrian street

Lockdown rules in Montreal

When I returned to my home city this April in the middle of a global lockdown after spending some time travelling throughout Asia, I have to confess I’ve never seen Montreal so quiet. Buses and metros were running on a lighter schedule, schools were closed, and because so many office workers transitioned to working from home, the usual Montreal traffic was basically nonexistent this spring.

Being fortunate enough to work from home during this pandemic, I’ve been sheltering in place in my apartment here in Montreal and taking daily walks around the downtown area. Many community parks that were closed off in March and April began opening at the end of May and by the humid days of June, Montrealers were enjoying all of our green spaces scattered throughout the city.

The border that the province of Quebec shares with Ontario is open, and inter-provincial travellers aren’t being asked to quarantine upon return. Many Quebecers and Ontario residents are opting for a staycation this year and exploring their nearby provincial parks for a long weekend getaway.

What’s open in Montreal during a pandemic?

Just in time for summer and the holiday weekend, many bars in and around Montreal were allowed to reopen on June 25, after a few months of lockdown. Safety regulations were put in place to prepare for the re-opening, such as allowing a limited number of customers in at a time and mandatory mask-wearing for servers. By the end of June, I noticed that the restaurants in my neighbourhood, the Plateau, transitioned from pick-up and delivery services to take-out. It’s like life was slowly going back to ‘normal’ again.

Public schools in Canada are set to reopen in the fall, and many daycares in Montreal and throughout the country have been open since June. All of Montreal’s summer festivals were cancelled for the 2020 season, but as Quebec begins a significant reopening phase this month, gatherings of a maximum of 250 people will be allowed.

Hotels in Montreal have also welcomed guests, and tourists are taking advantage of a not-so-busy summer in the city. Beloved Montreal museums like the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts are open with limited capacity and exhibits. The popular amusement park LaRonde operated with restrictions over the past couple of months and finally opened its doors to the public on August 3rd.

masks mandatory sign in a window front in Montreal
Living during a pandemic — Montreal right now

Safety tips in Montreal during coronavirus

It’s important to note that masks are mandatory in Quebec in any public indoor setting. Persons aged 12 and over must wear a face covering (make sure it properly covers both your mouth and nose) on all forms of public transit and any enclosed/partially enclosed public spaces throughout the province. Hand sanitizer is readily available for you when you enter any building/business, and it’s encouraged that everyone does their part to slow the spread of this virus. #CaVaBienAller

For the latest coronavirus safety guidelines for Montreal or any city, it’s important to always check local government websites.

It’s been an interesting experience in Montreal this year, living during a pandemic. I’ve grown to appreciate this unique city even more, and I have to confess that I’m eager for the world to slowly open up again. I think we will all look at travel a little differently after having experienced this global pandemic together, and I personally hope that sustainable travel continues to be a trend as it was at the beginning of this year.

chairs set up for physical distancing on St-Denis street in Montreal during the pandemic
Living during a pandemic — Montreal right now

Discover where you can go

Making plans to get back out there? Find out which borders are open (and still restricted) to Canadians with our interactive global map, and sign up to receive email updates when your top destinations reopen!

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Jenny, native Montrealer and market editor for Skyscanner Canada