Waits for COVID-19 tests increase after bar patrons told to get tested

Asked how many people have shown up to be tested, media relations officer Eric Forest said he did not have a precise number yet “but it is a substantial increase.”

The health authority carried out 197 inspections in bars over the weekend in cooperation with Quebec’s occupational safety board, he said.

Christopher Playle of St-Lazare said he was tested in Hawkesbury, Ont., Monday after being told the soonest he could get a test in Quebec was Friday.

In Hawkesbury, he waited only 10 minutes for a test, said Playle, who had spent 90 minutes on hold trying to make an appointment in his own region.

“I’m ashamed to say I’m a Quebecer,” said Playle, who wanted a test because he plans to visit his 96-year-old mother.

Waiting times for a COVID-19 test have increased significantly since Montreal’s public health authority urged people who have been to a bar to get tested.

Mike Shenker, a retired editor at the Montreal Gazette, said the line-up at the walk-in clinic at the former Hôtel-Dieu was so long Monday, he gave up.

“I asked a security guard how long the wait was and he said two or three hours,” he said.

Shenker said he went to the walk-in clinic after spending 40 minutes on the phone trying to make an appointment. He left a voicemail message and later got a call back with the number of a testing clinic.

He decided to get tested because he had had a drink in a crowded bar last week.

Montreal’s public health authority acknowledged that waiting times have increased significantly since Saturday’s advisory telling anyone who’s been to a bar since July 1 to get tested.

“We have seen an important increase of tests taken at the testing sites,” the Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux du Centre-Sud-de-l’Île-de-Montréal said in a statement.

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