September 17, 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.
More severe response to violators
The Québec government is looking for ways to intervene more severely with people who do not follow the health guidelines, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask.
Québec Premier François Legault stated that the deputy minister and minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault, is working with police to effectively intervene in cases where people are refusing to respect the rules for limiting the spread of the virus.
New hard-hitting ads
Premier Legault has asked government services to prepare hard-hitting ads featuring people who have survived COVID-19 or who know people who have had it, in order to raise awareness among sceptics of the dangers of the virus.
“Based on what MNAs are telling us, when sceptics see the consequences of the virus on one of their loved ones, they’re no longer sceptical. Some people need to go through hell to understand that hell exists,” said Mr. Legault.
He also wants the government to asked high-profile spokespersons to message Québec’s youth.
Increasing the number of tests
Premier Legault reiterated that one of the ways to limit the spread of the pandemic is to “very significantly increase the number of tests.”
Mr. Legault was proud to announce that Québec and Alberta are the two provinces that are conducting the greatest number of tests per million inhabitants. He nevertheless called on people to be understanding when it comes to wait times for getting tested.
“It’s normal that when there’s an outbreak somewhere new, it’ll take a few days to adjust the services,” he said.
Even though the number of cases has increased significantly over the last few days, the number of hospitalizations has remained stable, as has the number of COVID-19-related deaths.
François Legault acknowledged that over the last month the dynamic has completely changed in Québec, but that the situation is less serious than in the United States and France, for example, where the proportions are three and even four times higher than here.
“Everyone’s striving to predict trends. What we don’t want is for a large number of cases to translate into a large number of hospitalizations.”
The premier stated that this phenomenon cannot be explained solely on the basis that more youth are currently infected. Other factors are being explored to understand what is going on.
Common front among provinces
The premier of Québec will go to Ottawa along with three of his provincial counterparts to present unanimous demands among the provinces and territories regarding needed financial support from the federal government.
Along with Doug Ford from Ontario, Jason Kenney from Alberta and Brian Pallister from Manitoba, Mr. Legault wants to convey to the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the provinces need “ongoing funding” to support their health commitments, particularly regarding staff hiring.
No orange zone
The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, is very pleased that the government’s plea for prudence has been well received by the population and is producing results.
“This is why we’ve been able to maintain the yellow zones, as recommended by Public Health. However, I wish to reassure everyone that we won’t hesitate to move to an orange alert if necessary.”
The director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, specified that if a change in alert colours occurs, the restrictions that apply will not be the same everywhere.
“We will go on a case-by-case basis,” he said, explaining that the directors of Public Health must assess the circumstances of the spread of the virus and understand the outbreaks in order to effectively respond in each case.
Dr. Arruda does not think that the current situation in Québec indicates the beginning of a second wave, but rather “an outbreak of wavelets.”
No alcohol after midnight
The government is nevertheless tightening the rules for bars, restaurants and microbreweries, which will not be permitted to serve alcohol after midnight.
This measure is being imposed because many bars, in order to get around the last call for drinks at midnight, have decided to offer food services so that they can serve alcohol until closing, at 3 a.m.
This measure has also been extended, as of midnight tonight, to all restaurants and microbreweries.