Quebec to allow indoor gatherings up to 50 people; reduce distancing for kids

Gatherings inside private homes, however, are still restricted to 10 people from a maximum of three households. Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press

Quebec will allow indoor public gatherings of up to 50 people beginning June 22 and it is reducing to one metre the physical distancing requirement for children 16 years and under.

Horacio Arruda, Quebec’s director of public health, said Monday that in some circumstances where people don’t frequently circulate or speak to each other, such as in movie theatres, physical distancing will be reduced to 1.5 metres.

Gatherings inside private homes, however, are still restricted to 10 people from a maximum of three households. Such gatherings were permitted as of Monday across most of Quebec, while in the Montreal area, 10 people will be allowed to gather inside homes beginning June 22.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Quebec set to ease restrictions Monday

Dr. Richard Masse of the public health department told a news conference that the government is considering increasing indoor public gatherings to a maximum of 250 people by mid-July, “but we aren’t prepared to go higher than that.”

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Arruda said that considering the low number of infections since schools opened in May, it has been decided that starting June 22, the two-metre guideline for physical distancing can be reduced to one metre for children.

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“The numbers are very encouraging right now,” Arruda told reporters. “Not a single child who has been infected has gotten seriously ill. It’s more like a flu or a cold.”

Children under 16, however, will still need to keep a two-metre distance from adults, such as their teachers, Arruda said. The government is planning on announcing more details for schools on Tuesday. And Arruda hinted the physical distancing directives could be removed altogether for young children.

Quebec on Monday reported another 11 deaths attributed to COVID-19, for a total of 5,242, as well as 102 new cases of the novel coronavirus, for a total of 54,054.

READ MORE: Some Montreal bar owners plan to reopen in defiance of province

Hospitalizations increased by two, for a total of 771, including 82 people in intensive care, a reduction of 3.

Also Monday, Quebec’s ambitious plan to train 10,000 people to become orderlies in the province’s long-term care homes by mid-September got underway.

The province is paying successful candidates $760 per week while they undergo 12 weeks of training. If they successfully complete the program, the full-time orderly jobs will pay $26 an hour, up to $49,000 a year.

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Quebec’s long-term care homes have been hard hit by COVID-19 and had faced chronic worker shortages for years before the pandemic hit. More than 64 per cent of COVID-19 linked deaths in the province have occurred in long-term care homes.

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