Quebec is imposing tighter restrictions on public and private indoor gatherings in parts of the province after a recent surge in COVID-19 cases has been reported.
Health officials said the government is moving Montreal, Quebec City and some of its surrounding areas and the Chaudière-Appalaches region to zone orange (level 3 alert).
Orange is the second-highest level under the province’s four-tiered, colour-coded COVID-19 risk assessment system, which measures the risk posed by the virus in specific geographic areas.
In orange zones, bars and restaurants will need to stop selling alcohol at 11 p.m. and close by midnight, while a maximum of six patrons will be allowed to sit at the same table, down from 10.
Indoor private gatherings in orange zone areas also will be capped at a maximum of six people, down from 10.
Some indoor public gatherings — such as religious services, weddings or event halls — will be capped at a maximum of 50 people across the entire province and at 25 people in orange zones, down from 250.
The changes, which come into effect at midnight on Sunday, were announced just hours after Quebec reported 462 new cases of COVID-19, hitting a months-long high for the second day in a row. Sunday was the second day in a row that the province reported more than 400 positive cases.
The province reported 427 new cases on Saturday, which was already the highest daily tally since late May. Quebec has now recorded 67,542 total cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Health Minister Christian Dubé said the situation was “worrying,” and urged all Quebecers to make an effort to stop the spread of the virus in the coming weeks.
Of the 462 new cases reported on Sunday, 160 are in Montreal and 92 are in Quebec City — the two zones with the highest number of COVID-19 infections in the province.
Five additional deaths were reported on Sunday — one of which happened in the last 24 hours. The other four deaths occurred between Sept. 13 and Sept. 18. The provincial death toll now stands at 5,802.
Hospitalizations went up by seven from Saturday, for a total of 138 — 31 of which are in intensive care. Health authorities tested 28,725 people on Friday — the last day for which data is available.
Over two million people have so far been tested for the novel coronavirus in Quebec.
–with files from The Canadian Press