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July 20, 2020 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Québec government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Extraordinary civic-mindedness in the wearing of masks

Québec Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault highlighted the extraordinary civic-mindedness of Quebecers since Saturday in their efforts to wear masks in closed public spaces and on public transit.

“Except for a few isolated cases, the vast majority of Quebecers are wearing masks. I’m proud of their efforts and I thank them,” said Ms Guilbault.

Sûreté du Québec received 72 calls but no fines were handed out. Only one arrest received significant media coverage

The deputy premier encouraged people to rally: “This measure has been instituted by Public Heath for the collective good. We have to take individual responsibility for our actions in order to protect each other,” said Ms Guilbault.

Anti-mask protests

The deputy premier reacted similarly to the handful of protests and protest movements against the mandatory use of masks in closed public spaces and on public transit.

“I think wearing a face covering is a much smaller price to pay than having to return to lockdown. It’s a small price to pay to avoid having to return to isolation measures and saving ourselves from even worse inconveniences,” she said.

More cases, but in the same proportion

The higher rate of COVID-19 testing explains the current increase in cases reported daily over the last week, but the proportion of people infected remains about 2%, as it has been since Québec managed to bring the pandemic under control.

Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault pointed out that over 14,000 people have been tested daily over the last week, including one day where over 15,000 tests were conducted.

Situation under control in bars

The situation in bars is not a problem either, even though this sector of activity can be highly conducive to contagion. Out of the 924 bars listed in Montreal, outbreaks occurred in only three of them. Across Québec, there was only one other case, on the South Shore, in Brossard.

A total of 450 inspections have been conducted in bars and restaurants.

The deputy premier added that the cases related to bars were very contained. “It’s very few in the grand scheme of things. Except for a few cases, people really respected the rules,” she said.

Private gatherings pose a risk

Ms Guilbault reiterated, as did Premier François Legault and the national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda last week, that private gatherings among friends and family pose the greatest risk in terms of the spread of COVID-19.

Ms Guilbault said that the construction holiday, combined with the nice weather and the fact that everyone is impatient to reconnect with friends and family, is adding to the desire to get together.

“For gatherings at home, whether inside or outdoors, the maximum number of people is 10. It’s very important to respect this rule. […] What we want to avoid at all costs is having to return to lockdown,” said the deputy premier.

Campgrounds being monitored

Since people cannot travel, most campgrounds in Québec are at full capacity.

Ms Guilbault stressed that, here again, despite the easier way of life and the joy of reconnecting with friends, the maximum number of people per gathering is still 10, and this must be respected.

She reiterated that even though owners must ensure that the rules are respected, it is still up to everyone to follow the rules to protect themselves and others.

Drownings are up

Québec has seen a sharp increase in the number of drownings, another sad phenomenon indirectly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People are not travelling outside Québec. We’re having a very hot summer so far, and there are several swimming restrictions, which has prompted some people to swim in unsupervised areas,” said Ms Guilbault.

As the minister responsible for Public Security, she noted that there have already been 52 drownings, compared with 36 this time last year.

“Be cautious,” she said, while reiterating the safety guidelines of wearing a life jacket, not swimming alone, supervising children, drinking with moderation, etc.

“Let’s have fun telling each other great anecdotes, instead of talking about tragedies,” she said, calling on people to exercise caution and be responsible.