Christmas has come early for Montreal shoppers. The city is offering free downtown parking as part of a series of initiatives designed to encourage Montrealers to visit and support local businesses amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The goal is to offer a “coup de pouce,” to merchants who have been bleeding cash because of COVID-19, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante suggested in a tweet on Tuesday.

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Free on-street parking downtown on weekday evenings after 6 p.m. until Dec. 31.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante

“I am pleased to announce that we will be extending free on-street parking downtown on weekday evenings after 6 p.m. until Dec. 31. The population will thus have more options to do their holiday shopping,” Plante said on Twitter.

The mayor previously announced free street parking on weekends across the city.

The province’s partial lockdown has been extended through "at least" November 23, limiting restaurants in the red zone to takeout, delivery and drive-thru.

To help them out, the mayor is allowing eateries to set up 15-minute pick-up points to facilitate deliveries and take-out orders.

Tuesday’s announcement comes after the city launched a $6 million shop-local plan in October.

That plan also included the extension of opening hours for retail stores.

“We are sparing no effort to support our businesses during this period, and we will continue to listen to their needs,” stated the mayor.

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