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September 20, 2020 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic

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

Montréal and two other regions move to orange alert

The spread of the virus is growing and the government has confirmed that the regions of Montréal, the National Capital and Chaudière-Appalaches have moved to orange alert and that the rules there will be tightened for bars and restaurants as well as for public and private gatherings.

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, explained that these regions have reached level 3 alert because “the number of cases is increasing, outbreaks are multiplying and our ability to provide care is decreasing.”

Mr. Dubé stated that as of midnight, a maximum of six people or two families of four people will be authorized for private gatherings. Bars and restaurants must stop selling alcohol as of 11 p.m. and must close at midnight. Tables in restaurants will be limited to six people instead of 10.

In residential and long-term care centres (CHSLDs), only visits on compassionate grounds and for caregivers will be permitted. In private seniors’ residences, a maximum of six people at a time will be permitted in rental units.

Interregional travel from orange zones is not recommended. The minister pushed the guidelines further and encouraged people to avoid gatherings among family or friends.

“I’m calling on you to make a special effort over the next few weeks,” he said, stating that if Quebecers take the necessary steps now, the contagion could be reduced and the zones could return to yellow and then green alert.

Regions moving to yellow alert

Minister Christian Dubé also announced that several regions have moved from pre-alert green to yellow : the sectors of the regions of Lanaudière and the Laurentides, namely, the regional county municipalities of Les Moulins, L’Assomption, Rivière-du-Nord, Deux-Montagnes, Mirabel and Thérèse-De Blainville.

Regions already in the yellow zone remain at that level, namely, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Estrie, Outaouais, Laval and Montérégie.

From 250 to 50 people across Québec

The minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, announced a new health measure for all of Québec regarding festive gatherings, such as marriages, and for religious events and funerals, namely, a maximum of 50 people, instead of 250.

This new restriction excludes performance halls and theatres because Public Heath experts have not noticed an increase in contagion in these venues.

The measures come into effect as of midnight, across Québec, until further notice.

Extracurricular activities and fitness training in gyms

Because extracurricular activities, particularly sports, are an important aspect of school success for students, they will continue to be permitted within orange zones. The same applies to training in gyms, which is still permitted because Public Health has not noted any outbreaks of COVID-19 in these facilities.

Situation still under control

Minister Dubé, along with the director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, stated that the pandemic continues to be under control despite these new announcements of the spread of COVID-19, but that the situation “is of great concern.”

They reiterated that several elements are taken into consideration in determining alert levels, in particular the number of cases, but also the number of outbreaks and the availability of health care in the regions in question.

Getting tested for the right reasons

The minister of Health and Social Services also repeated that while it is important to get tested to determine if one has COVID-19, it is important to do so for the right reasons and not because a region has moved from yellow to orange.

“Complete the form on the government website by going to https://covid19.quebec.ca/surveys/cdd2/introduction. This will avoid you getting tested for no reason,” said Minister Dubé.

All screening centres operated efficiently in Québec yesterday. Some 23,000 people were tested and wait times were less than an hour across all centres.