Quebec will prohibit holiday gatherings if coronavirus cases ‘increase too much’

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Quebec Premier Francois Legault on Thursday asked Quebecers to limit their holiday celebrations to just two gatherings of 10 people each. He also warned that if COVID-19 cases rise, they will have to disallow gatherings over the holidays – Nov 26, 2020

Quebec’s premier is defending his plan for December but he is warning that holiday parties could be off the table if the second wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic gains steam in the province.

François Legault’s announcement comes as 1,464 new cases of COVID-19 were reported Thursday — the highest number of daily infections to date. The province also recorded 32 additional deaths, including eight in the past day.

“If our numbers increase too much, we won’t allow gatherings,” he said, adding the pandemic must be kept under control.

The four-day period next month where Quebecers are allowed to see one another for a maximum of two gatherings has sparked questions. In return, those who do holiday events are asked to quarantine for a week before and the week after.

Legault says he is comfortable with the plan, but that he understands the guidelines are “not black and white” for everyone. The other option, he said, was to prohibit gatherings altogether during the holiday season when Quebecers are already dealing with restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19.

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“We have no magic answer,” Legault said.

READ MORE: Montreal public health says ‘less is more’ for holiday gatherings as COVID-19 crisis continues

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Quebec’s caseload stands at 136,894, while recoveries have topped 118,000. The death toll, which is the highest in the country, stands at 6,947.

There are 675 hospitalizations, an increase of 20 from the previous day. Of those patients, 90 are in intensive care, a drop of three.

Health Minister Christian Dubé says there is a spike in cases and hospitalizations across the province.

“We must continue to respect the measures and limit our contacts if we want to slow the spread of the virus,” he wrote on Twitter.

When it comes to screening, 33,023 tests were carried out Tuesday. To date, the province has given more than 3.7 million tests.

Who will get vaccines first?

As Canada prepares for an eventual vaccine rollout in the new year, Legault says he is still awaiting details from Ottawa.

Quebec has started to work on a plan, according to Legault. He said the province will prioritize inoculating residents in seniors’ homes, health-care workers and the elderly.

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READ MORE: Canada could approve 1st coronavirus vaccine by end of 2020

Dubé said Quebec will have the staff and the infrastructure ready to begin vaccinating people against COVID-19 by Jan. 1.

“Do we have the people on the ground? The answer is yes. Can we do more than (200,000) per week? The answer is yes,” he said.

Yet, even with the hope of a vaccine on the horizon, officials are asking the public to not let their guards downs in the coming months and abide by public health measures.

“There is hope with the vaccine but we must be very careful,” Legault said.

When asked if the government has plans to tighten restrictions amid high cases numbers, Legault said he doesn’t have any intension of doing so at the moment.

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Legault says province awaiting info from feds on COVID-19 vaccines' Coronavirus: Legault says province awaiting info from feds on COVID-19 vaccines
Coronavirus: Legault says province awaiting info from feds on COVID-19 vaccines – Nov 26, 2020

—With files from the Canadian Press