| News

May 22, 2020 – Federal and provincial government updates on the COVID-19 pandemic

In the exceptional circumstances of the current health state of emergency, here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Canadian and Québec governments in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Libraries, museums and drive-in theatres to reopen
The Québec minister of Culture and Communications, Nathalie Roy, announced the reopening of libraries and museums across Québec, as of Friday, May 29, but with new operating rules.

The reopening dates will be dictated by the institutions themselves, according to their capacity to implement the new health measures required by Public Health.

For libraries, public access will be limited to service counters until further notice. Only book and document loans are authorized.

Recording without an audience
Again with Public Health’s go-ahead, Minister Roy also authorized the resumption of activities in recording studios and the filming of performances in public venues, without an audience, as of June 1, still under the new health rules.

Artists and creators must respect physical distancing, even on stage, as must the technical team, which is restricted to five members.

Camping and tourism
While gatherings of 10 people are now permitted, limited to three different family bubbles, while respecting social distancing, the deputy premier of Québec, Geneviève Guilbault, called for patience, particularly regarding campgrounds and tourist accommodations, which must remain closed.

“I’m asking people to be patient,” said Ms Guilbault. She reiterated that the easing of isolation measures must be gradual, one activity at a time.

National Director of Public Health Dr. Horacio Arruda added, “if we lift isolation measures too quickly and prompt a new wave in the spread of the coronavirus, we’ll have to put Québec back in isolation.”

He reiterated the measures of social distancing of two metres, handwashing, respecting the limits on social gatherings and travel and the recommendation to wear a homemade mask.

Summer camps limited to children with special needs
Deputy Minister Guilbault confirmed that summer camps will be opened exclusively for children with special needs because of the many challenges in respecting physical distancing in these settings, particularly in the dormitories and eating halls.

Mass screening and tracking
To guarantee the safe resumption of economic activities during the gradual easing of isolation measures across Canada’s different regions and provinces, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government will help the provinces with screening and tracking people infected with COVID-19.

Federal government employees will be trained to do this and could make up to 3,600 calls a day, seven days a week.

Mr. Trudeau added that 1,700 workers from Statistics Canada will also contribute and could make up to 20,000 calls a day.

Canada has a screening capacity of 60,000 cases a day. Mr. Trudeau stated that this number must be increased.

Mobile tracking app
The prime minister stated that a mobile app for smartphones will be available in June to enable Canadians to be contacted in the event that they come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The government will strongly recommend that citizens download this upcoming app on their smartphone. The current challenge is to prevent this app, which runs all the time, from draining cell phone batteries.

Computer giants Apple and Google are working on solving this problem.

35% unemployment among youth
Mr. Trudeau defended the importance of the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) of $1,250 during the pandemic in light of a youth unemployment rate of 35%.

Premier François Legault noted yesterday that the CESB is hampering efforts to recruit youth on the job market, particularly to work in day camps.