October 2, 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 government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Respecting physical distancing of two metres
Québec Premier François Legault called on Quebecers to respect physical distancing of two metres with people who are not in their family bubble, with reports of more than 1,000 people infected by COVID-19 yesterday, 27 new hospitalizations and seven deaths.
“If any more proof were necessary that the situation is critical, we’re getting it day after day,” said the premier. He insisted on everyone following the rules: “[…] I need Quebecers’ cooperation. […] Don’t ask yourself how you can get around the rules, but rather how you can make sure you are always two metres away from others.”
In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also called on Canadians to follow the guidelines of wearing a mask, respecting physical distancing of two metres and frequent handwashing. He also asked that everyone download the COVID Alert app, as the second wave of the pandemic rolls across the country.
Premier Trudeau pointed out that the numbers that are being recorded today are the result of contacts between people 14 days ago. “We can’t change tomorrow’s numbers, but we can change those 14 days from now,” said Mr. Trudeau.
Dr. Theresa Tam and Dr. Howard Njoo, of the Public Health Agency of Canada, stated that the second wave is already more serious than the first. The country has recorded an accelerated growth in cases, with more than 1,600 a day over the last week, in addition to an increase in serious cases. They added that 80% of infected people live in Ontario or Québec.
In the presence of Prime Minister Trudeau, Dr. Tam and Dr. Njoo admitted that they are worried that hospitals across the country will be quickly overwhelmed and that the delays in various scheduled surgeries caused by the first wave will only worsen.
They likened the contagion to a rollercoaster, where it goes up very fast, but goes down very slowly.
“We must redouble our steadfast efforts to slow down and flatten this new curve,” said both Canadian Public Health specialists.
New restrictions as of Monday
Premier Legault announced that new restrictions will be announced as of Monday regarding sports activities and schools because the growing number of infections, now at 1,000 a day, means that more needs to be done.
Repeating that the purpose of the newly added measures is to limit the spread of the pandemic over the next two to four weeks, Mr. Legault warned that the government will add other measures quickly “if they are necessary to ensure a significant decrease (in the spread) by the end of October.”
Mr. Legault refused to shut everything down in Québec, as was the case in the spring: he is looking for a better balance. Greater knowledge of how the virus spreads makes it possible to approach it differently this time.
“There are two differences that give us hope that we will not have to shut businesses down as extensively as we did in the spring. We didn’t have the knowledge regarding physical distancing of two meters and the use of masks to prevent contagion,” said the premier.
Police roadblocks and road signs
Police roadblocks and new road signs will start to go up along the outer limits of the maximum COVID-19 alert zones (red) so that anyone entering or leaving these zones is aware that they must avoid entering businesses.
Premier François Legault explained that the goal is to raise public awareness of the importance of following the guidelines, not to prohibit travel between regions based on alert levels.
$50 M more for cultural industries
Alongside the minister of Culture and Communications, Nathalie Roy, Premier Legault announced $50 million in additional financial assistance for cultural industries. This will be valid for six months in order to help theatres and performance venues survive the second shutdown and to support craftspeople, artists and designers.
“It breaks my heart to close performance halls and theatres. But we have no choice. We must reduce social contact. It’s a question of life and death,” said Mr. Legault.
The assistance will be available for six months, since unlike restaurants and bars, plays and shows are often performed over an entire season, rather than a month. Reimbursements will be equivalent to 75% of tickets sold per month, according to different assessment criteria. To receive this money, operators must be able to prove that they paid their artists and craftspeople.
The assistance applies to all alert zones.
An additional $600 M in assistance
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $600 million in additional support to small and medium-sized businesses across the country that are feeling the effects of the new restrictions imposed due to the second wave of the pandemic.
The minister of Economic Development, Mélanie Joly, announced that the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund will serve as additional support. In Québec, this represents a sum of almost $70 million more for small and medium-sized businesses. The funds will be managed by the Agence de développement économique du Québec and the Société d’aide au développement des collectivités.
$50 M in support for women and children
Justin Trudeau also announced an additional $50 million for women and children victims of violence: $30 million will be allocated to organizations that fight violence, $10 million to women’s shelters and another $10 million to shelters for Indigenous women.