Quebec announces yet another change to outdoor masking rules

·2 min read
Some of the new mask rules appeared to be only irregularly followed last weekend, when parks across Montreal were jammed with people thanks to record-high temperatures. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Some of the new mask rules appeared to be only irregularly followed last weekend, when parks across Montreal were jammed with people thanks to record-high temperatures. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit)

After a week of confusion, criticism and low levels of adherence, Premier François Legault has, once again, changed the rules for when masks must be worn outside in Quebec's orange and red zones.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Legault said Quebecers no longer have to wear masks when doing sporting activities with people from different households, as long as physical distancing can be maintained.

He also stipulated that couples who don't live together no longer have to wear a mask when spending time with each other outside.

Last Tuesday, Quebec announced in a late evening new release that, for the first time in the pandemic, masks would be obligatory outdoors in certain circumstances, including when groups from different households are close together.

That measure appeared to be only irregularly followed last weekend, when parks across Montreal were jammed with people thanks to record-high temperatures.

The rules have been tweaked repeatedly since they were first announced last week.

The Health Ministry initially said masks would be mandatory when groups of two or more gathered outside in close proximity. Then the ministry said it would only be applied when three or more were together. By Monday, it was back to two people.

'The goal of the measure is to prevent transmission of the virus when people of different addresses are closer than two metres apart,' Premier François Legault said in a Facebook post Wednesday.
'The goal of the measure is to prevent transmission of the virus when people of different addresses are closer than two metres apart,' Premier François Legault said in a Facebook post Wednesday. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

On Monday, the ministry informed reporters that even couples, if the partners lived in different residences, would have to wear masks when, for example, sitting in a park. However, if they were inside, they would not be required to mask up.

That clarification brought scorn from opposition parties.

"You have the right to French-kiss your partner at home at night, but if you want to take a walk during the day, you have to wear a mask," Québec Solidaire's Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois said earlier on Wednesday.

"I have trouble understanding this directive."

In his Facebook post, Legault acknowledged that the hazy and ever-changing rules were causing confusion.

"The goal of the measure is to prevent transmission of the virus when people of different addresses are closer than two metres apart," he wrote.

"So I asked for requirement to apply only in situations where it is difficult to stay two metres apart at all times from people who don't live with us."

The premier's final bit of advice for those who remain confused: "If you have the slightest doubt, wear your mask."