Residents in three Quebec regions will not be allowed to visit friends or family at home for most of October or eat out at their favourite restaurants as the Quebec government struggles to slow the surge of new COVID-19 cases across the province.
On Monday afternoon, Quebec Premier François Legault announced that the Greater Montreal, Quebec City, and Chaudière-Appalaches regions are now considered red zones under the province’s COVID-19 alert system.
“I’m a bit heavy-hearted today,” said the Quebec Premier during a late afternoon news conference.
“We looked at the results over the weekend, and the number of cases has gone up significantly.”
This rise in cases could lead to an increase in hospitalizations and deaths, he said, and the government must act quickly in the interest of all Quebecers.
“We need to make some difficult decisions,” Legault said.
The new restrictions, announced after Quebec reported 750 new coronavirus cases, take effect 12:01 a.m. ET on Thursday and are set to last for 28 days, until Oct. 28, in the red zones. The restrictions are:
- A ban on home gatherings, with some exceptions, such as a single caregiver allowed per visit.
- All bars, casinos and restaurants are closed (takeout only).
- Libraries, museums, cinemas and theatres will also be closed.
- Being less than two metres apart will be prohibited. Masks will be mandatory during demonstrations.
- Houses of worship and venues for events, such as funerals and weddings, will have a 25-person limit.
- Hair salons, hotels and other such businesses will stay open.
- Schools will remain open.
“Schools must remain open,” said Premier Legault. “Businesses are open so parents can continue to work and earn money.”
Though people are generally following the public health guidelines, the Quebec Premier said many are not and he expressed his frustration towards those who are throwing caution to the wind.
“That doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “We are not putting measures in place just for fun. We are putting measures in place to protect others.”
During the press conference, Premier Legault also mentioned that the Quebec government is working on compensation packages for those businesses that are being shut down by the pandemic, although he declined to go into further details about those packages.
The Quebec government announced it will be enacting the restrictions as of Thursday to give the owners of businesses that will be closed time to prepare.
The government could restrict travel between regions as was done in the spring under public health guidelines, but for now, it won’t be banned.
However, travel between different regions of the province is strongly discouraged, said Premier Legault.
Quebec COVID-19 Statistics
Quebec reported 750 new cases on Monday, 245 of which were on the island of Montreal. The Quebec City area, which had few cases during the first wave in the spring, had another 125 cases.
Quebec City and its immediate environs have emerged as a second epicentre of the fall coronavirus wave.
Altogether, the Capitale-Nationale region and Chaudière-Appalaches added more than 1,000 cases from Sept. 20-27.
So far, there has been a total of 1,163 cases in 489 schools in Quebec. There are more than 3,000 public and private schools across the province, with more than than one million students and 226,000 staff.
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