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COVID-19 – New government measures to slow the spread

In the current exceptional circumstances, here is an update on the latest decisions by public authorities regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Compliance with guidelines
The Canadian and Québec governments continue to insist on the importance of complying with protective guidelines for countering the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). People are reminded to stay home, and take walks outdoors while practising social distancing. Gatherings are now banned by decree.

Every gesture can help to limit contagion and save lives.

The number of people testing positive is on the rise, mostly due to the increase in testing. At present, only people returning from abroad or those presenting symptoms are being tested. These conditions could change in the next few days.

Despite the resulting social constraints, it is important that we not visit our loved ones in seniors’ residences. And seniors in these residences should not receive visitors. They can go outdoors, but must employ the same social distancing precautions of two metres between each person. The same instructions must be followed inside seniors’ residences.

The government is also insisting that anyone going to the hospital must share all information and tell the truth about their health condition in order to protect healthcare staff. They will receive the necessary care regardless of their situation.
The police now have the power to ban gatherings and require anyone who has been tested positive for COVID-19 to stay home and self-isolate.

The inventory of medical equipment is sufficient for the next few weeks. For down the road, orders have been placed with Québec companies and the federal government is purchasing from abroad any equipment that will be needed and will distribute it to the provinces.

Following in the footsteps of actress Dominique Michel and former news anchor Bernard Derome, the Montréal Canadiens defenceman Shea Weber and CTV news anchor Mitsumi Takahashi have lent their voices to record messages of encouragement to be sent by automated telephone systems to Anglophones over the age of 70.

Closing of stores and restaurants
Effective midnight, tonight, and until May 1st, all shopping malls must close with the exception of grocery stores, pharmacies and SAQ outlets. Stores with direct access to the outdoors can remain open.

This directive also applies to restaurant dining rooms, which must be closed. Only take-out and meal- delivery services can be maintained. Restaurant owners are encouraged to provide these services.

Given the impossibility of keeping social distancing in hairdressing and beauty salons, these establishments must also close for the same period, as of midnight.

Schools and daycares

School, CEGEP and university closures have been extended to May 1st. High school ministry exams have been cancelled for this year. Teachers will determine students’ grades based on the results from the first two-thirds of the school year. Instructions from the Ministère de l’Éducation will be sent to all students by e-mail or by the post. Educational capsules and lists of activities will be posted online shortly to help stimulate young people and will also be broadcast on Télé-Québec.

Colleges and universities will continue their courses through distance learning and will be able to complete the semester.

Daycare services will be maintained for workers in the healthcare system only.

Humanitarian aid
A call has been issued to staff from the field of education, asking them to help community organizations by replacing their volunteers aged 70 or over, who must now stay home. The government is also asking people to help their elderly neighbours by observing social distancing of 2 metres.

Electricity bills
To provide relief to people experiencing financial difficulties, Hydro-Québec is suspending penalties for any late bill payments, until further notice.

Most Canadians who are still stranded abroad will be flown home this week by Air Transat and WestJet. Both of these airlines are working with the Canadian government to obtain special permission to repatriate foreign nationals from the countries where flights have now been banned. These repatriations should take place this week. Sunwing has agreed, for its part, to take on board any Canadians stranded abroad free of charge, based on seat availability.

Canadians who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who cannot return will receive federal government assistance.