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June 30, 2020 – Federal and provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

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

Masks mandatory as of July 13

Québec Premier François Legault announced that masks will be mandatory on public transit across Québec as of July 13, with a transition period until July 27.

As of that date, anyone wishing to use public transit without wearing a mask will be refused access. The measure is “strongly recommended” for children between the ages of 2 and 11.

Those who fail to wear a mask will not be fined.

“We’re not going to be deploying hundreds of police officers to enforce this guideline. The only negative consequence is that access will be denied,” said Mr. Legault.

This measure is necessary because the COVID-19 virus is still present.

Stores and public spaces

The premier also called on all Quebecers to wear a mask when in stores or in public spaces. While not mandatory, it is highly recommended.

The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, thinks that wearing a mask during the pandemic should become “a social norm, a new standard.”

Premier Legault said that depending on how the situation evolves, masks may become mandatory in public spaces and in stores in the coming weeks.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, every measure has been applied based on the evolution of the situation. “As we resume more and more activities, the risks go up, requiring more guidelines; it’s normal,” said Mr. Legault.

Concerned about a resurgence

Premier Legault pointed to Quebecers’ irresponsible behaviour last weekends when hundreds of people gathered, particularly at the Rawdon Falls in Lanaudière and in bars in Saint-Jérôme in the Laurentians, in total disregard for the health guidelines.

“Don’t do that,” said the premier. “COVID-19 is dangerous. It’s serious, people are still dying. It’s relatively easy to catch it from someone else if they’re physically too close.”

Mr. Legault said that this type of behaviour is responsible for the resurgence in contagion in the southern United States right now.

Show of respect

The premier stressed that Quebecers were exemplary in following the health guidelines since the outbreak of the pandemic, as demonstrated in North American studies. Mr. Legault believes this will also be the case when it comes to wearing a mask.

“It’s a question of respect. Wearing a mask is more about protecting others than ourselves,” said Mr. Legault.

Europe reopens its borders

Political and health authorities in Québec and Canada continue to be very prudent about overseas travel despite the fact that today the European Union reopened its borders to Canadians for non-essential travel, while the pandemic is under control in Europe.

The Canadian government’s official policy remains the same since the closing of the borders and it is not authorizing non-essential overseas travel by Canadians.

Dr. Arruda hopes that the federal government will impose a 14-day quarantine on travelers in the event that overseas flights are permitted. “We’re also concerned about the situation in the United States, where there’s a huge number of cases,” he said.

New testing strategy

The new minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, called on Public Health to establish a new strategy for a higher rate of COVID-19 testing among the population. Less than half the daily objective of 14 000 tests is being met.

“Six thousand tests are not enough. Undoubtedly, this is because it’s summertime and a false sense of security is settling in among the population. We need to implement a plan because we’re not testing enough,” said Mr. Dubé.