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March 12, 2021 – 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.

Acceleration of vaccinations

 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that vaccinations will accelerate over the next few weeks as the government will be receiving more doses than expected.

“We were supposed to receive 6 million doses of vaccine by the end of March, but that has now increased to over 8 million doses,” said the prime minister.

Mr. Trudeau said that the agreements concluded with various pharmaceutical manufacturers will make it possible to vaccinate a greater number of Canadians, and more quickly. He said that the entire adult population could be vaccinated by the end of September.

Last week saw the greatest number of people vaccinated across the country. Canada is also awaiting shipment of the Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccine, which is slated to provide 20 million doses by the end of the year.

Vaccination of people 65 years of age and over

The acceleration of the vaccination campaign also continued today in the Montréal area for people 65 years of age and over.

Gradual resumption of organized sports

The minister for Education and minister responsible for the Status of Women, Isabelle Charest, confirmed that there will be a gradual resumption of leisure and sports activities in Québec in all alert zones (orange and red) as of March 26.

“In red zones, all indoor facilities will be reopened, including physical fitness centres. Training alone, in pairs or with members from the same private residence will be permitted as of March 26,” said Minister Charest.

For populations in red zones, outdoor sports and leisure activities will be maintained at a maximum of eight people per group or among occupants of the same private residence, as is presently the case. In orange zones, the number has been increased to 12.

Fitness centres will be required to maintain a registry.

In orange zones, a maximum of eight people will be able to participate in indoor supervised activities. However, locker rooms will remain closed, except for aquatic activities.

In all cases, two-metres’ physical distancing must be respected at all times, regardless of the type of activity or the region in which it is practised.

Public Health’s strategic medical advisor, Dr. Richard Massé, believes that with the acceleration in vaccinations, it will be possible to ease other measures as of June.

Resumption of extracurricular activities

In red zones, extracurricular activities will be permitted for class groups as of March 15, while in orange zones, students in different stable class groups from the same school will be able to participate in no-contact extracurricular activities, as of March 26.

For these activities, a maximum of 12 students will be permitted for outdoor activities and eight students for indoor activities. The person leading the activity, such as a trainer, will be able to join the group. However, two-metres’ physical distancing will have to be respected at all times.

Leisure and sports activities in colleges and universities will have to follow the same rules in effect for each alert zone.

Spas and indoor pools

Minister of Tourism Caroline Proulx announced that spas will be permitted to reopen as of March 15 in orange zones and as of March 26 for the maximum alert red zones.

Indoor pools in hotels will be able to reopen in red zones as of March 26. Maximum capacity must be based on a strict observance of physical distancing measures and no contact between people who do not belong to the same family bubble.

Places of worship

Places of worship in red zones will be able to receive up to a maximum of 25 people as of March 26, instead of 10. In orange zones, a maximum of 100 people, permitted since March 8, has been maintained.

Vaccination passport under study

Prime Minister Trudeau stated that the government is examining the possibility of vaccination passports but no final decision has been made yet out of a concern for avoiding any inequities or injustices.

Mr. Trudeau noted two issues. Firstly, internationally, such passports already exist because certain countries require visitors to present proof of vaccination for certain diseases.

However, he stated that domestically, he would not want people to be discriminated against because they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or other reasons.

The government is studying these questions at this time because mass vaccination should make it possible to return to a degree of normality in the next few months.