Quebec premier to lift emergency measures in Gatineau, urges youth to get vaccine

·2 min read

MONTREAL — Emergency COVID-19 measures will end on Monday in Quebec's Outaouais region, in the western part of the province by the Ontario border, Premier François Legault said Tuesday.

Schools and non-essential business can reopen and the nighttime curfew will be pushed back to 9:30 p.m. from 8 p.m., Legault told reporters. That region will join Montreal and Quebec City in the red pandemic-alert level, where gyms and in-person dining at restaurants is still prohibited.

"We are making it through the third wave," Legault said, sounding optimistic, adding that the province is "heading in the right direction."

Three less-populated regions, however, are still worrying health authorities. Emergency measures will remain in most of the Bas-St-Laurent region, northeast of Quebec City on the southern shore of the St. Lawrence River — except for Rimouski, where emergency measures will end Monday.

Emergency measures will also remain in Quebec's Estrie region, east of Montreal, and in parts of the Chaudière-Appalaches region, south of the provincial capital.

Legault encouraged young people to get vaccinated. "Getting vaccinated means freedom, solidarity and a great summer," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé called on young adults to get vaccinated in an open letter, on the eve of appointments opening to those 25 and older.

Dubé said on Twitter the beginning of the province's so-called "youth week" has been successful, as 50 per cent of those 30 to 34 have secured an appointment since Monday.

In an open letter posted Tuesday on Facebook, Dubé said he appreciates how the past year has been difficult for young adults, who have made remarkable sacrifices to protect the most vulnerable and the health-care system.

He said he recognizes that young people's mental health has taken a toll, as they have been relegated to distance learning and those in the hotel, restaurant and culture sectors have lost jobs.

Quebec is nearing the finish line, Dubé said, adding that young people have a chance to play a crucial role in controlling COVID-19 transmission by getting vaccinated in large numbers.

The provincial government has said that by the end of the week, all Quebec adults will be offered the chance to book a vaccine appointment.

Quebec reported 660 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and nine more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including one in the previous 24 hours. Health officials said hospitalizations dropped by three, to 540, and 128 people were in intensive care, a rise of five.

The province said it administered 61,051 additional doses on Monday; more than 43 per cent of Quebecers have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

Quebec has reported a total of 359,456 positive cases of COVID-19 and 11,002 deaths linked to the virus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 11, 2021.

Virginie Ann, The Canadian Press

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