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Quebecers confused over new measures during first day of province’s partial lockdown

Quebec Premier Francois Legault arrives at a news conference flanked by Health Minister Christian Dube, left and Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec's director of public health, in Montreal, on Monday, September 28, 2020.
Quebec Premier Francois Legault arrives at a news conference flanked by Health Minister Christian Dube, left and Dr. Horacio Arruda, Quebec's director of public health, in Montreal, on Monday, September 28, 2020. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Thursday is day one of Quebec’s partial 28-day lockdown as new public health rules, such as a ban on gatherings and the the closure of entertainment venues and bars, come into effect.

But there’s still some confusion about what people are permitted to do and why restaurants and bars have closed but not other institutions such as gyms.

“When I’m listening to Legault and his team, I’m not sure if they are themselves so clear, why they decide this or not,” said Montrealer Vincent Lacombat.

Read more: Quebec unveils how partial lockdown rules will be enforced in COVID-19 red zones

On Thursday, reporters attempted to get some clarification from the province’s health officials.

Quebec Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda said it was permitted to go on walks and jogs with someone who is not from your same household as long as you maintain the two-metre distance.

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But he recommends people wear masks if it’s difficult to keep the two metres or you stop to talk.

READ MORE: Coronavirus uptick in Quebec continues with 838 new cases

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As for trick or treating, Quebec Premier François Legault said it was too early to make a decision.

Arruda was also asked about play dates with kids who are in the same bubble in school.

He said that doing a playdate is exposing yourself to more trouble, but didn’t offer a clear answer.

“I think in this situation — if it’s done — the issue will not be probably with the two kids who work together, it will be probably on the others,” he said.

“I hope I’m clear.”

Click to play video 'Quebec places three regions on red alert' Quebec places three regions on red alert
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In fact, many of the answers that were provided about the new measures were not very clear.

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Journalists kept asking over and over the same kinds of questions during the press conference.

“I don’t know. It’s very complex, it’s very difficult for us,” Arruda said.

Read more: What’s allowed and what’s not in Quebec’s coronavirus red zones

Concordia University behavioural medicine professor Dr. Simon Bacon says the government can do better with its messaging.

Providing the reasoning and data behind their decisions is first, Bacon said. The second is being consistent.

“Having consistent messaging and being consistent about why things are put in place and what are they doing about it,” Bacon said. “It provides people with confidence.”

Officials promised they will publish answers to specific questions on the government’s website. But when in doubt, Dr. Bacon advises to use your common sense keep the greater good in mind.

Click to play video 'Quebec Premier pleads with young adults to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19' Quebec Premier pleads with young adults to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19
Quebec Premier pleads with young adults to do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19