As of Monday, a maximum of 250 people will be allowed at indoor and outdoor public gatherings across the province of Quebec.
The latest step towards normalcy, however, leaves health-care workers who have witnessed the devastating effects of COVID-19 concerned.
“We don’t want to play with fire, it’s a dangerous way to go, things have been going very, very well,” said orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Zukor.
Dr. Zukor said he spearheaded a change.org petition against the government’s decision after many conversations with his colleagues.
Read more: Quebec will permit up to 250 people at indoor, outdoor events next month amid coronavirus pandemic
“We’re very, very concerned at this move now to open to public gatherings of indoor gatherings of 250 people,” said Dr. Zukor.
The petition asks the government to postpone its decision to increase the number of people allowed to congregate in public places. The previous maximum was 50 people.
In the petition, Dr. Zukor cites other countries where reopenings have gone wrong.
“In other places that have tried this, other places in the United States, other countries, it’s usually been a ticket to a huge increase in a number of cases and moving backwards a giant step,” he said.
Read more: Quebec will not close bars as Legault says recent rise in coronavirus cases due to private gatherings
According to Dr. Zukor, recent efforts to control the novel coronavirus in Quebec have gone well. Some COVID-19 hospital wards have closed and general surgery has been able to resume.
But the decision still comes too soon “unless we have good science and a good rationale for why we’re doing it,” he said. “Lets just not do it and go into it slowly.”
Dr. Richard Massé said in a statement, when the Quebec government announced the increase, event organizers have been diligent in ensuring public health directives are still respected to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“However, everyone’s collaboration, particularly through the application of physical distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask or face cover when indicated, is essential to ensure the success of this new stage,” he said.
The eased restriction does not apply to gatherings at private residences, where a maximum of 10 people are permitted inside or outside. This includes homes, backyards and chalets.
— With files from Global’s Kalina Laframboise