In a widely anticipated press conference on Monday the 28th of September, premier Legault announce what everyone feared. An increase in cases that merited passing to red level of alert for Montreal Laval, Quebec City and unfortunately for most of the North shore towns including the MRCs of Rivière-du-Nord, Deux-Montagnes and Thérèse-De Blainville.
Once more the restaurant, bar and entertainment sector are hit by a 28 day closure that starts on October 1st and finishes on October 28th. Premier Legault announced that maintaining or not he red alert after the 28th of October will depend on whether or not the cases drop. The government is also cracking down on private gatherings which seem to fuel the Covid-19 cases as of late.
It is characteristic of the severity of the measures that even though the democratic right of protest is maintained, outdoor protesters (Including anti-maskers) must wear a mask and keep the 2 meters distance between them.
Premier Legault announced that his government will support the businesses most hit by the new measures promising financial help to restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.
Measures in force
At home (houses and cottages), visitors from another address are prohibited with the exception of: a single visitor from another address for single individuals, informal caregivers, individuals offering services or support, labor for planned work.
For the CHSLD, RPA private seniors’ residence and RI, visits for humanitarian purposes are allowed as well as visits by informal caregivers (one person at a time and a maximum of two people per day in CHSLDs)
All private gatherings are prohibited as well as activities organized in a public place except for places of worship and funerals (maximum of 25 people and a register must be kept)
To avoid the spread of the virus to different color-coded regions, inter-regional travel is not recommended toward a green, yellow or orange zone and outside Québec (except for essential travel, workers, shared custody, freight transportation)
As far as public venue halls and audiences in indoor public places, auditoriums, cinemas, theatres, libraries and museums are closed.
Restaurants and dining rooms are closed with delivery and takeout orders only. Bars, brasseries, taverns, casinos will all be required to close.
Businesses, stores and boutiques remain open and private professional and health services are open only for services that require an individual’s presence
Services are maintained for personal and beauty care services as well as community organizations
North Shore situation
Due to the changes in alert levels announced by the Premier of Quebec, particularly in the Laurentians region, Dr. Éric Goyer, Regional Director of Public Health, answered questions from the media during a press conference on Tuesday September 29. Dr. Goyer stated that the hardest hit MRC was Rivière-du-Nord followed by Thérèse-De Blainville. Although travel between orange, yellow and red zones is discouraged, for the moment it is not forbidden and there will be no police presence or enforcement.
NSN asked whether we know where transmission is higher and if we do why not concentrate the measures there rather than closing all the restaurants. Dr. Goyer said that the idea is to limit social gatherings whether it is in the houses or deciding to go out with others to a restaurant thus creating the possibility of transmission. What worries health authorities is the tendance for a rise in the cases. Even though it is the young people getting infected who can fight off the virus, the authorities are proactive in preventing a potential explosion of transmissions to more vulnerable Quebecers overwhelming our health system.
Unfortunately, Quebec, once more leads in cases closely followed by Ontario and in lieu of an in-person update to the media, Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, issued a statement on September 28th announcing 153,125 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 9,268 deaths. 86% of people have now recovered. Laboratories across Canada continue to test at a high rate, with an average of almost 70,000 people tested daily last week and 1.4% of these testing positive. As of Friday September 25th, an average of 1,175 cases were being reported daily across Canada over a seven-day period. The ongoing increase in Canada’s daily case count is an indicator of accelerated epidemic growth in some regions of this country. While Canadians and public health authorities alike are rapidly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Theresa Tam asked Canadians to be mindful about the fact that we are in the midst of an “infodemic.” That is an overabundance of information about COVID-19, including rumors and misinformation, sometimes deliberately spread.
During any public health crisis, access to reliable, accurate and timely information is essential to protect our health. This is being recognized today by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI).
Public health officials across Canada have been working tirelessly to provide Canadians with the information they need to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19. She urged Canadians who have been eager to absorb as much info about the virus as possible to consult trustworthy information about COVID-19 in the Government of Canada website, Canada.ca/coronavirus. Provincial and local health agency websites, as well as international agencies like the World Health Organization and the Red Cross are places with trustworthy scientific information about the virus and the pandemic it causes.