Quebec is reopening mining and residential construction over the coming days but under tighter operational restrictions as it expands its list of essential services in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
The two sectors are among a handful of activities expected to ramp back up under new modifications released by the province Monday. The government is also giving the green light to landscaping-related businesses and all auto repairs after having restricted garages to servicing only vehicles necessary for essential services.
“We don’t want to add a housing crisis on top of the current health crisis we’re living through,” Premier François Legault told reporters in Quebec City.
The government said protocols have been put in place to protect construction workers, including making sure they maintain a required physical distance of two metres. Work on homes slated for delivery to occupants by July 31 will be allowed to resume as of April 20, the province said in a statement.
For the mining sector, Quebec said it would allow companies to resume activity gradually starting Wednesday. The industry’s output is necessary to the supply chains of numerous products, notably equipment being used to fight the pandemic, the government said.
Following consultation with Quebec government and health officials, mining corporations have agreed to put in place a series of measures to protect the health of their workers and residents of towns near their operations, the government said.
Those include reducing to a strict minimum the number of so-called “fly-in-fly-out” air shuttles and extending work shift plans so that workers stay longer at the mine site for any one cycle. For example, a worker who would normally fly home for a rest after 14 days of work could be asked to stay on-site for 28 days.
The measures will be structured taking into account the realities of each mine, the province said. Regular inspections will be carried out to make sure companies are complying, it added.
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