As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Quebec, the provincial government announced on Wednesday that some non-contact physical activity and individual sports will be permitted as of May 20.
Quebec Premier François Legault said some sports such as golf and outdoor tennis will be allowed to resume in the province in the first phase of gradual reopening of liesure activities.
“I think it will do a lot of people good,” he said.
Jogging/running, cycling, outdoor swimming, fishing and individual kayaking are also among the sports permitted.
All regions of Quebec, including the greater Montreal area, will be permitted to engage in the practice of individual non-contact sports, according to the provincial governement.
“We want to allow Montrealers to have opportunities to move by allowing them to reconnect with certain activities that are dear to them, in complete safety,” indicated the press release.
The resumption of other sports and activities will be gradual, following Public Health recommendations, according to Junior Education Minister and former Olympian Isabelle Charest.
“I wish for a gradual and safe return to normal life and encourage regular practice of outdoor activites because it is good for body and mind,” said Charest.
The news was well recieved by tennis lovers as they will get to enjoy the sport sooner than they thought.
“We’re going to be starting already with our outdoor clubs and the municipalities,” said Tennis Québec General Director Jean-François Manibal. “We’ve already had some meetings with them and many are already ready to start coming to the courts and play. I think it’s going to be an easy phase to go through.”
However, not all sports fans will get the chance to get back on the field as of next week. Team sports like soccer aren’t on the list as of yet.
“What we are going to propose to our peers, to our clubs, is to organize activities (for) example and no games with physical contact, (just) a couple of drills (while) respecting the government directives,” said Soccer Québec General Director Mathieu Chamberland.
Different phases will possibly be announced in the coming weeks or months depending on the evolution of the situation and will follow the criteria of physical distancing, place of practice, required equipment, the context of practice and travel.
“Moving helps us better manage stress,” said Charest. “(But Quebecers must) continue to show great prudence despite the deconfinement for outdoor activities.”
The government insisted the decision was made to allow Montrealers to engage in physical activity without being tempted to travel between other regions in the province.
On Wednesday, Legault reiterated his recomendation that Quebecers wear masks when out in public, though it’s not mandatory.
The same instructions apply to the practice of non-contact outdoor activities and individual sports, the ministry insists.
“The first important instruction to respect is to maintain a distance of two metres with others and to wash hands frequently.”
Public Health strategic medical advisor Dr. Richard Massé said outdoor pools are on the radar and could possibly open this summer. “Because pools with chlorine could mean it could be safe but the issue is with physical distancing.”
The announcement comes as Quebec’s death toll has surpassed 3,200 and cases rose to 39,931. Montreal remains as the epicentre of the virus’s outbreak in Canada.
— With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise