Non-essential businesses, hair salons, museums and libraries will be able to reopen as of Feb. 8 across the province, however all other red zone restrictions will remain in effect, including the ban on visiting others in their homes and the mandatory work-from-home order.
The announcement was made by Premier François Legault during a press conference on Tuesday evening. Legault also authorized outdoor activities for no more than 4 adults from different households in red zones. Students at CEGEPs and universities may soon be able to attend in-person classes at least once per week. The 8 p.m. curfew remains in effect.
“We can only lift certain measures, very gradually,” said Legault, while emphasising that Québecers need to remain very careful.
A total of six rural or northern regions considered to be orange zones, representing roughly 10 percent of the Québec population, will see the opening of restaurants, gyms, movie theatres and some indoor activities as of next week. The curfew will also be pushed back to 9:30 p.m. in those regions.
Legault insisted the decision to maintain the restrictions in red zones stemmed largely from the situation in the different hospitals, including the occupancy rate as well as the number of surgeries and services that are being postponed. At the moment, Quebec hospitals are delaying one out of three surgeries, which Legault maintains is simply too high to sustain.
According to the Québec government’s listing, the Anna Laberge Hospital in Châteauguay is treating 37 individuals with the virus in hospital, while the Suroît Hospital has 19 beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. The outbreak at the Centre d’Hébergement d’Ormstown has now been downgraded to yellow alert, with 10 positive cases still being treated on site.
According to the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, there are presently 48 active cases in the Haut-Saint-Laurent Local Health Network (LHN), including 26 that were diagnosed in the last seven days. The majority of cases are in Saint-Chrysostome (15), Ormstown (13) and Huntingdon (5). There are 314 cases in the Jardins-Roussillon LHN, including 19 individuals who were diagnosed since Jan. 25. There are 130 cases in the Suroît LHN, and 219 in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges LHN.
Legault reiterated the announcement made earlier by Education Minister Jean-François Roberge that March Break would be maintained, however he strongly cautioned families against renting cottages outside of their region or making any plans that would compromise family bubbles. He promised that roadblocks would not be established and that tickets for travelling between regions would not be issued. Legault also reminded those living in red zones that they remain under a curfew and would have to plan any travel accordingly.