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September 3, 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.

Close to the critical threshold of contagion

The daily trend of increased cases of people infected with COVID-19 over the last week prompted Québec Premier François Legault to state that the province “is nearing a threshold that could be critical.”

The premier mentioned that no specific activity can be targeted at the moment to explain this rise in cases. However, the recent episode of a karaoke night in a Québec City bar has proven the importance of respecting health guidelines.

“The vast majority of bars are respecting the rules,” said Mr. Legault, stressing that he has called for close monitoring of venues where this is not the case.

The critical threshold set by Public Health is 20 cases on average per million inhabitants per day during one week. Mr. Legault added that this threshold is not an “automatic trigger” for new restrictive measures, because several factors must be considered.

Lockdown by region

Mr. Legault confirmed that the government is not planning to impose a general lockdown in the event of a second wave of the pandemic, but he will proceed “by region and even by sub-region.”

At the end of the lockdown that was imposed this winter, Mr. Legault had already indicated that this option would not be favoured in the event of a second wave of COVID-19.

Tightening the screws on recalcitrants

Premier Legault confirmed that the government plans to tighten the screws on “recalcitrants” who refuse to self-isolate when they are suspected of being infected or when they have received a positive diagnosis.

Mr. Legault added that more details with respect to this will be made public shortly, while reiterating that the “vast majority of Quebecers are respecting Public Health guidelines.”

Protection in schools

Premier Legault announced that the government will make public, on a daily basis, positive COVID-19 cases detected in schools across Québec in the days to come.

He reassured Quebecers that the bubble strategy per classroom rather than per school is a good approach, since it will prevent having to close an entire school. Children are grouped together by classroom and must not mix with students from other classrooms.

A different Halloween

The national director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, is concerned about Halloween and stated that it may be a very different celebration this year for young children.

“Halloween, when everyone walks around side by side, between houses, is a big concern. If Halloween is celebrated this year, it will have to be a special and very different Halloween,” stated Dr. Arruda.

Dr. Arruda cautioned that even though October 31 is just around the corner, it is a lifetime in terms of epidemiological data.

“There’s no question that if we celebrate Halloween, it cannot be the same as before,” he said.

A scientific committee will be set up to assess the potential options for celebrating Halloween without the risk of spreading COVID-19.