Montreal’s reopening may be pushed back again amid coronavirus crisis, Quebec premier says

Click to play video 'Quebec Government walking fine line on deconfinement plans in Montreal' Quebec Government walking fine line on deconfinement plans in Montreal
WATCH: Quebec Premier Francois Legault says he is not worried about an unprecedented spike in COVID-19 infections in the Montreal area once stores, businesses and schools start to reopen. At a press briefing on Monday, the premier was adamant that won't happen because he won't let it, but as Raquel Fletcher explains, a Quebec public health institute report released Friday painted a catastrophic picture of what re-opening could look like. – May 11, 2020

Quebec Premier François Legault is considering postponing reopening elementary schools, daycares and businesses in Greater Montreal once again, citing concern for the region hard hit by the novel coronavirus.

“In Montreal, the situation is not under control, and it’s very worrying,” Legault said during his Monday briefing.

The province has gradually eased restrictions and reopened elementary schools and daycares in other parts of Quebec even as the death toll reached 3,013 on Monday. The respiratory illness has killed 85 more people since the previous day, and 82 of those fatalities were the Montreal area, according to Legault.

There are 38,469 cases, an increase of 748 from the previous day and roughly half of the infections are in and around the city.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec premier explains why province such high death toll linked to COVID-19' Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec premier explains why province such high death toll linked to COVID-19
Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec premier explains why province such high death toll linked to COVID-19 – May 11, 2020

READ MORE: Quebec reopens some elementary schools, daycares following coronavirus lockdown

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Legault’s comments come on the heels of projections from the province’s public health institute showing that deaths could soar if confinement measures are lifted in Montreal, which is the epicentre of the virus in Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

The projections, which were released late last week, show that fatalities attributable to COVID-19 in Montreal could climb to 150 per day by July.

“They say it will be explosive if it (Montreal) opens,” he said. “It just confirms we took the right decision to postpone.”

Last week, Legault delayed the reopening of Montreal-area elementary schools, daycares and retail stores by a week to May 25 amid high infection rates and community outbreaks. However, the date could be pushed back again if conditions don’t improve in what he described as a “fragile” situation.

Legault said on Monday that sobering scenarios laid out by the institute “will never happen.”

Quebec has the highest caseload and leads Canada when it comes to deaths, but Legault said most of the province is doing well — with the exception of Montreal. Testing is being ramped up in the area in hopes of curbing the spread of COVID-19.

READ MORE: Quebec ramps up screening strategy as coronavirus bears down on Greater Montreal

In response to criticism to over softening restrictions and changing measures, Legault said the province is constantly adapting its plan as the virus’s progression evolves.

“It’s normal that the directives changed,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is the MP for the Montreal riding of Papineau, said on Monday he was concerned for his fellow Quebecers.

“That’s why it is so important that we continue to work with the Quebec government on our shared goal of ensuring that people get through this as best we possibly can, and we will continue to work hand-in-hand with the Quebec government on exactly that,” he said.

When asked about Trudeau’s comments, Legault also said he was worried about Montreal and that is why his government delayed reopening the city.

“I want to say there’s nobody who’s more worried than I am about the Montreal situation,” he said.

With files from the Canadian Press