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July 7, 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.

Masks could become mandatory

Québec Premier François Legault is not closed to the idea of making masks mandatory in all closed public spaces, such as malls, restaurants, bars, boutiques and gyms.

“This is one of the scenarios we’re looking at. We strongly recommend wearing a mask; we’ve made it mandatory on public transit. I’ll be discussing this with my partners to see how this measure could be implemented and enforced,” said Mr. Legault.

He repeated that since isolation, all measures have been implemented gradually. However, he is disappointed with the failure of youth to respect the rules in bars over the last few weeks.

The premier stressed that realities are very different from region to region and city to city.

Masks must become the norm

The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, reiterated that wearing a mask or a face covering must become the norm whenever physical distancing is not possible.

The specialist noted that people are not seeing the importance of avoiding a new uptick in contagion. He is concerned about what is happening in the southern United States where contagion is surging.

According to him, time is not on our side because if the contagion spreads, it will take about 15 to 20 days before seeing the effects. Dr. Arruda and his teams are studying the possibility of making masks mandatory.

Festive gatherings

Dr. Arruda said he was “extremely concerned” about family get-togethers and festive gatherings among friends, which are generating new cases of contagion.

“This slackening could cause an outbreak in the community,” he said.

A question of balance

Premier Legault was philosophical about the importance of managing the situation, taking into account public health but also life, and that “everything is a question of balance.”

He said that perceptions around the easing of isolation measures are more complex to manage in the population.

A new bill to speed things up

François Legault said that a new bill will be tabled this fall so that Québec has the means to carry out infrastructure projects more quickly, while respecting regulations.

Mr. Legault said that “Quebecers support his government” not the opposition parties in the National Assembly on this issue. “The population wants these projects. It is essential that this happens quickly over the next few years,” he said.

Reopening of the U.S. border

The premier of Québec said that Public Health has set out clear rules regarding the reopening of the border. The decision must be made on this basis as the end of this reciprocal agreement between Canada and the United States forbidding non-essential travel between the two countries is looming.

Not enough Red Cross workers

Mr. Legault is disappointed by the withdrawal of 1,300 Canadian Armed Forces soldiers who were lending a helping hand to patient attendants in residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs) because the personnel recruited by the Red Cross falls well short of what is required.

“We currently have about 100 Red Cross workers. This is forcing us to keep hospital staff working in the CHSLDs, which is not ideal,” he said.

Conspiracy theory

Mr. Legault responded to those who think that COVID-19 does not exist even though the virus has claimed 5,600 lives in Québec.

“This is the case all over the world. When I ask that people wear masks or that we isolate ourselves, I’m doing it for the common good. I’m not doing it for fun—it’s to save lives,” he said.