MONTREAL — Quebec's government is removing capacity restrictions in retail stores across the province and reducing the two-metre physical distancing health order to one metre.
The new rules start Monday and are a result of sustained, low daily COVID-19 infections and rising vaccination rates, the Health Department said in a statement Wednesday.
Health officials reported 103 new COVID-19 infections Wednesday and one more death attributed to the novel coronavirus. Officials haven't reported more than 100 new daily cases in the province since June 29, when there were 126.
Beginning Monday, Quebecers from separate households will be required to keep a one-metre distance from one another indoors and outdoors instead of two metres. Retail stores, meanwhile, will no longer face COVID-19-related capacity restrictions but will need to ensure clients can maintain a one-metre distance from one another.
The mask mandate in all public indoor and outdoor areas remains in place, the Health Department said, adding that the province's workplace safety board will introduce new rules for offices next week.
Montreal had the highest number of new cases reported Wednesday with 35, and its northern suburb Laval was next with 23 new infections. COVID-19-related hospitalizations rose by one, to 103, and 25 people were in intensive care, a drop of two.
The province said 104,751 doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered on Tuesday and 39.9 per cent of Quebecers over the age of 12 are considered fully vaccinated. Health Minister Christian Dubé tweeted that the government's goal is to have all Quebecers over 12 vaccinated by the end of August to avoid a new rise in cases in the fall.
Later on Wednesday, Dubé tweeted that 95 per cent of people in the province who tested positive for COVID-19 between June 27 and July 3 were not fully vaccinated. He said the percentage was the same for patients hospitalized with COVID-19 during that period.
"All Quebecers have equitable access to vaccination," Dubé said. "Faced with variants, we must give ourselves the means to avoid (hospitalizations) and another confinement."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 7, 2021.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press