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September 10, 2020 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19 update

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

Fines to start on Saturday

Québec premier François Legault announced that “irresponsible” people who refuse to wear a mask in closed public spaces and on public transit could receive fines starting this Saturday.

Cabinet will meet today or tomorrow to confirm this punitive approach.

The ticket amounts will then be made public, but the premier stressed that the fines will be steep enough to dissuade non-compliance.

Out of solidarity for all

The government’s change in strategy will be applied out of solidarity for “the overwhelming majority” of Quebecers who are respecting health guidelines.

Until now, only merchants were subject to fines for not respecting or enforcing the guidelines.

“Unfortunately, there is a small minority of irresponsible people who are putting vulnerable people and the healthcare system in jeopardy. We managed to significantly reduce the number of deaths over the last few months. […] But now, we’re seeing an increase in hospitalizations and deaths. This is serious,” said Mr. Legault.

Effectual fines

Premier Legault stressed that Cabinet will make sure that the fines are established in such a way as to “prevent people from contesting them.”

This approach is designed to prevent the perpetuation of the current trend in which one-third of fines issued under the current health measures are contested in court.

The four alert levels are working

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, confirmed that establishing four alert levels is helping to raise awareness among the public about the risks of contagion, which resulted in parents and children having to wait for hours yesterday in two zones, namely, Québec City and Laval.

“I don’t like hearing about three- to four-hour wait times. We’re going to improve the process and promote screening tests by appointment. We’re finetuning our approach,” said Minister Dubé.

However, the minister noted that the alert zones have helped to raise awareness among the public. “The communication tool is working.”

Between 18,000 and 19,000 tests were conducted over the last few days, and Mr. Dubé wants these statistics to be provided by region in order to provide a better understanding of the health challenges at stake.

Stricter rules may be in order

While Minister Legault reiterated that returning to a lockdown like the one last winter and spring is out of the question, he added that the government “won’t hesitate to take action” if necessary, by limiting certain activities, such as keeping bars open and allowing karaoke evenings.

According to Mr. Legault, the pandemic situation in Québec is “still under control, but we’re seeing a trend that we don’t like.”

“We’re trying to raise awareness and a sense of responsibility among the population. I have a good feeling about our ability to stop the increase (in cases), even though, over the last few weeks, there has been a worrisome rise.”

Extracurricular activities

As all extracurricular sports, cultural and social activities are scheduled to resume on Monday, Minister Legault announced that the minister of Education, Jean-François Roberge, will unveil the new guidelines tomorrow.

Restrictions could be added according to the four alert levels of the pandemic. This week, four regions in Québec are in the yellow pre-alert zone.