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July 14, 2020 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

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

Quebec Premier François Legault is adamant that all elementary, high school, college and university students should be able to return to the classroom instead of learning online.

“This is plan A,” he said, while reiterating that this is the guideline being issued to all educational institutions in Quebec for the return to school this fall.

At another press conference, the director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, reiterated that the pandemic has proven that children are “unlikely to transmit the virus and do not tend to get very sick” when infected.

Return to full employment a priority

The premier stressed that every effort must be made, at all levels of public intervention, to ensure that economic recovery assistance programs are prioritized in Quebec.

“We want (financial) assistance measures for businesses to be instituted as soon as possible,” said Mr. Legault.

“Now that the pandemic is a little more under control in terms of its health impact, we want to get back to full employment as soon as we can,” he said.

Testing capacity

Experts’ fear of a second wave of contagion in the fall has prompted the government to adjust its offer so that most Quebecers can easily be tested.

The premier assured Quebecers that the current testing capacity is 16,000, even though only 7,000 to 9,000 tests are being administered daily.

U.S. border to remain closed

While rumours are circulating on Parliament Hill in Ottawa that the closure of the U.S.-Canada border will be extended from July 21 to August 21, Premier Legault said that reopening the border is unthinkable given the resurgence of the pandemic in the United States.

“We’re recommending that Mr. Trudeau keep the border closed,” he said.

It’s not over!

While reiterating that this is an unprecedented crisis not only in Quebec and Canada, but around the world, Dr. Horacio Arruda said that this worldwide challenge has forced us all to develop medical and scientific knowledge one day at a time.

What we now know, explained Dr. Arruda, is that even though there are fewer cases, fewer hospitalizations and fewer deaths, “the virus is still among us.”

Mr. Arruda again emphasized the importance of respecting physical distancing, handwashing and wearing a mask when necessary.

The issue of family gatherings

Dr. Arruda has issued strong reminders over the last few days that festive gatherings in homes must not exceed 10 people in order to limit community transmission.

“It’s not because we want to stop people from having fun, but we don’t want to have to return to lockdown (due to a significant resurgence of the contagion),” said the national director of Public Health.

Gatherings in homes, with family and friends, are very conducive to close contact, which is the major cause of transmission of COVID-19.

“We’re heading towards a new reality,” said the preventive medicine specialist.