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Legault ‘not against’ making masks mandatory in indoor public places amid coronavirus pandemic

Coronavirus: Quebec premier not against making masks mandatory
Quebec Premier François Legault weighs in on making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces.

Quebec Premier François Legault is not excluding masks mandatory in enclosed public places to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus as the City of Montreal looks to implement the measure by the end of the month.

“I am not against the idea,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “It is part of the scenarios we studied.”

Legault said he wasn’t aware of Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante’s plan, but he said that municipalities have the power to implement bylaws. The Quebec government strongly recommends wearing a mask in indoor spaces, but has only made it mandatory on public transit starting next week.

“Will we need to go further? I don’t exclude that,” said Legault. “But at the same time it’s not black and white. I think we have to put some restrictions, not too much if we want the population to follow and support these measures.”

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READ MORE: Montreal to make masks mandatory in enclosed public places

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The comments come after Plante announced on Monday that masks will be mandatory in indoor public places as of July 27, saying outbreaks could undermine the city’s efforts to contain COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Montreal, the epicentre of the virus’s outbreak in Canada, accounts for about half of the province’s cases. There are 27,438 cases as of Tuesday.

“A setback would be a disaster for human lives and for our economy,” Plante said in a social media post.

Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of the province’s public health department, also told reporters on Tuesday that making masks mandatory is a measure that is being considered.

“We are analyzing the situation,” he said.

READ MORE: Quebec health minister ‘very concerned’ after Lakeshore nurses walk off job

Quebec reported 60 new cases linked to COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the province’s total number of infections to 55,997.

Authorities recorded 13 more deaths from the previous day. Four of those deaths occurred before June 29.

The province is the hardest hit by the pandemic. The virus has killed 5,590 Quebecers since the health crisis first bore down in March.

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There are 347 people in hospital, a decrease of 30 from the previous day. Of those patients, 26 are in intensive care.

Public health authorities conducted 5,318 COVID-19 tests on July 5, the last day for which data is available, representing a significant decrease compared with the past week.

⁠— With files from the Canadian Press