December 30, 2021 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic
Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the provincial government regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.
François Legault, Premier of Québec, Christian Dubé, Minister of Health and Social Services, and Horacio Arruda, National Director of Public Health in Québec, announced new health measures to come into effect at 5 p.m. on December 31.
“We are in the worst situation in the 22 months (since the start) of the pandemic,” Mr. Legault said. “All the experts agree that even though there is still a lot of uncertainty, there is a real risk that we will exceed hospital capacity in the coming weeks, which would eventually mean that we would not be able to treat everyone in Québec. So this is a very serious situation.”
Here are the new health measures that apply starting Friday, December 31, at 5 p.m.
There will be a curfew from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
It will therefore be forbidden to travel outside one’s place of residence, apart from exceptions justifying such travel, for example to receive healthcare, for humanitarian reasons or to do work considered a priority.
People travelling during this period may be required to justify their reasons. Police will issue fines to offenders, ranging from $1,000 to $6,000.
The Premier emphasized that this measure will be the first to be abandoned when the situation in hospitals allows it.
All elementary and high schools, CÉGEPs, universities, general adult education and vocational training centres will remain closed until January 17, 2022.
Teaching will continue online until that time.
Mr. Legault explained that schools will be the first to reopen when possible.
Daycare services will remain open for parents who really need them, with priority given to essential workers.
Businesses will be closed for the next three Sundays, with the exception of some commerces such as pharmacies, convenience stores and gas stations.
It should be noted that the government is considering expanding the use of the vaccine passport in non-essential businesses. “It is important that we make an effort to give benefits to people who have been vaccinated. It’s a question of fairness,” Mr. Legault said.
Restaurant dining rooms
Restaurant dining rooms will be closed.
Delivery and take-out orders will still be possible.
Private indoor gatherings must be limited to occupants of the same residence.
Some exceptions may apply:
- A visitor to provide a service or support;
- A single person (with children, if applicable) may join another family bubble.
Sports and leisure
Indoor sports are suspended unless played by a single person, by two people or by occupants of the same residence.
Indoor classes will be allowed for one person, two people or occupants of a private residence.
The indoor facilities of ski centres and snowmobile lodges will be open only to allow people to warm up and to have access to washroom amenities. Consumption of food will not be permitted. However, food services will be able to provide take-out meals.
Amateur orchestras and choirs will be subject to the same rules as indoor entertainment.
Places of worship
Places of worship will be closed, except for funerals, which will be limited to 25 people.
Vaccination passports will not be required for these.
Outdoor events will be allowed, but will be limited to a maximum of 250 people with vaccination passports.
Go here to see a summary table of all the measures.
Message to healthcare workers
“We are currently in a storm, and our storm is at its height,” Mr. Legault explained. “I can’t believe that in the coming few weeks we are going to leave Quebecers without care. Please, if you are able to come and help your colleagues, please, we really need you.”
In the last week, the number of healthcare employees absent from work has risen to 12,000 from 5,600.
Epidemiological situation in Québec
The day’s total is 14,188 new positive cases of COVID-19. Rapid testing may be underestimating the number of positive cases.
There were nine more deaths and 939 hospital admissions, including 138 to intensive care. The number of hospitalizations has therefore doubled since last week.
Hospital capacity in Québec has risen to 1,200 beds from 800 due to redeployment.
Moreover, although unvaccinated adults represent just 10% of the population, they account for 50% of hospitalizations. Unvaccinated people are therefore 10 times more likely to be hospitalized because of COVID-19.
It should also be noted that the government is working on creating a web platform for self-reporting a positive test for COVID-19, often obtained using a rapid test.