Quebecers are being asked to refrain from travelling outside the country and have only two gatherings during the holiday season to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Premier François Legault is also urging those who cannot isolate for a week before the four-day period when gatherings are permitted in December to skip them all together.
“If you cannot be in quarantine a week before, it’s better to not go to a Christmas dinner,” he said Tuesday.
The updated restrictions come after the province announced last week that it will allow Quebecers to hold events with a maximum of 10 people from Dec. 24 to 27. In exchange, people who do participate in gatherings are asked to quarantine the week before and the week after that period.
“We want the least amount of gatherings possible,” said Dr. Horacio Arruda, director of Quebec public health.
Legault also warned against travelling outside the country, saying it puts added pressure on the health network. He also admitted he had some difficulty with the idea of citizens heading down south to all-inclusive hotels during the ongoing health crisis.
“It’s really not a good idea to go on vacation outside of the country for the coming weeks, for the coming months,” he said.
Quebec is reporting 1,124 new infections and 45 additional deaths Tuesday linked to the second wave of the pandemic.
Health authorities say nine of those deaths occurred in the past 24 hours, while the other fatalities have been retroactively added to the death toll.
The number of hospitalizations rose by 21. There are currently 655 patients in hospital for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
Of them, 96 patients are in intensive care, a decrease of two from the previous day.
Health Minister Christian Dubé noted on Twitter that many of the new cases reported Tuesday come from private seniors homes, and urged residents to be cautious.
Legault echoed the statement, saying that long-term care homes are “doing very well” during the second wave but that private residences are seeing an uptick in cases.
“I also want to ask people who live in seniors’ homes to be very careful,” he said.
The province’s latest data shows 20,400 tests were given Sunday. The total has surpassed 3.7 million since the pandemic began.
The caseload stands at 134,330, while there have been more than 115,000 recoveries to date. Since March, the health crisis has claimed the lives of 6,887 Quebecers.
Quebec preparing for eventual vaccine rollout
Legault was also optimistic about promising vaccine trials and the province is preparing for an eventual rollout, but said more information is needed.
“We are waiting for Ottawa to know when we will have the vaccine,” he said.
He also called on the public not to let their guards down, saying that restrictions such as wearing masks and keeping a two-metre distance are key to preventing the spread of the virus.
“We still have some months ahead of us so let’s stay positive,” Legault told reporters.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a lack of vaccine-production capabilities in Canada means other countries could have some of their citizens be inoculated against COVID-19 before Canadians do.
However, Trudeau did say the expectation is that the first doses will start to arrive in the country in the early months of 2021.
— With files from the Canadian PressView link »