Quebec is making masks mandatory in indoor public spaces as of this coming Saturday as efforts continue to clamp down on the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Premier François Legault announced the measure on Monday after saying last week that his government had not yet ruled out the idea. He said wearing a mask in public will help keep people safe during the ongoing health crisis, but there is an exemption for those who cannot don one for medical reasons.
“I ask all Quebecers to wear a mask in shops and public transportation,” he said. “The COVID-19 virus is really dangerous and it’s easy to catch if you’re close to another person.”
Legault said business owners will have to enforce the rule, which applies to anyone over the age of 12. The fines will range from $400 to $6,000 for those who fail to implement the regulation.
The new rule applies in all indoor settings across the province, including restaurants — but only when patrons are moving around, according to Legault.
“When we are sitting down, when we are at a table, we can take it off,” he said. “But when we get up to use the bathroom or to leave, we put it back on.”
The move comes as the mask rule was implemented for commuters on public transit across the province on the same day. Over the past week, some municipalities where COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported have also made masks obligatory in enclosed public spaces.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante quickly took to Twitter during the press conference to applaud the government’s decision. Last week, she announced the city would make masks obligatory in enclosed public spaces starting on July 27.
“It’s the right decision to protect us all,” she said.
Legault, for his part, said he waited to make masks obligatory because he wants to impose restrictions gradually on Quebecers.
“It’s easier to wear a mask than to return to being confined,” Legault said, adding the province has seen a slight increase in the number of daily new COVID-19 cases.
Quebec reported 100 new coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing its total number of infections to 56,621 nearly four months after the pandemic first began.
The province also recorded one more death from the previous day. The health crisis has led to the deaths of 5,628 people to date.
As of Monday, 305 are in hospital, a decrease of one. Of them, 21 patients are in intensive care.
— With files from the Canadian PressView link »