Quebec Premier Francois Legault once more sounded hopeful about the province getting back to normal and re-opening daily life after 16 months of varying degrees of lockdown, but the return to indoor dining and gyms re-opening in Montreal and Laval will have to wait another week, the premier said.
The curfew, which has proved extremely unpopular among younger Quebecers, will still, however, be lifted as of Friday, and restaurant outdoor dining spaces will still open across the province, Legault said at his weekly press conference held Tuesday afternoon.
“For Montreal and Laval, we prefer to be cautious and leave these two regions red for an additional week,” he said.
“You have to understand that you don’t only have to attain a certain level (of cases),” said public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda, sitting next to Legault. “It has to be the trend for a certain period of time.”
The South Shore area surrounding Kahnawake – the Monteregie region – will go orange Monday, meaning restaurant dining rooms will be open to the public, as long as they can prove residency in a green, yellow or orange zone. A maximum of two adults from different addresses are permitted at any one table, and reservations are required for all non-fast-food establishments.
High school students in Grades 9, 10 and 11 will be allowed to return to class full time, gyms will reopen with certain restrictions, and houses of worship will be allowed to increase attendance from 25 to 100.
“The numbers are good, the trend is good,” Legault said. “We’re seeing a drop in cases, a drop in the number of hospitalizations.”
Legault said he was pleased with the low number of new cases and with the high vaccination rates – Quebec had given out the most first-dose vaccinations of any province in Canada as of Tuesday.
“Quebecers have responded to the call — Quebecers of all ages,” Legault said.
On Tuesday Quebec reported 346 new cases and six more deaths linked to the virus. Quebec has reported fewer than 500 new cases for three consecutive days. Montreal by itself reported 114 new cases and two deaths linked to COVID-19.
The provincial government opened vaccination appointments for 12- to 17-year-olds last Monday, and provincial health minister Christian Dube said changes would be made to the Clic Sante website to allow Quebecers to get their second dose of the vaccine a little earlier.
“Our objective is to move all the doses for the month of September to before Aug. 31,” Dube said.
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase