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Eastern Townships region turns red amid COVID-19 surge

Cyclists on Velo Quebec's Grand Tour sweep along a trail in the Eastern Townships, Aug. 1, 2015. Cal Woodward/AP

The Eastern Townships region is officially a designated red zone once again Monday due to rising COVID-19 cases.

The change brings tighter measures into effect for the area, which was previously an orange zone under Quebec’s coloured-coded pandemic response system.

Restaurants and gyms must close, and places of worship will cap capacity at 25 people. Curfew, meanwhile, will be set from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the area.

Health authorities say schools will remain open, but students in their third, fourth or final year of high school will attend class every other day, starting Wednesday.

While the number of new infections remained stable in most of the province, the Eastern Townships saw a jump in cases last week.

READ MORE: Montreal restaurants stage ‘symbolic re-opening’ to promote businesses

The public health department for the region also reported a “significant increase” in outbreaks and hospitalizations related to the pandemic. It also pointed to a rise in COVID-19 variants, which are more contagious.

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As a result, health officials are calling on citizens to be prudent and to get tested if they have symptoms.

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Estrie surged last week even as they remained stable in much of the rest of the province.

On Monday, the region reported 43 new infections. Of the region’s 512 active cases, more than two-thirds are in the Sherbrooke and Lac-Mégantic areas.

Meanwhile, the Quebec City region and some parts of the Outaouais are also returning to the red alert level after several weeks of strict emergency lockdown measures that included the closure of schools and non-essential businesses and an 8 p.m. nightly curfew.

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with files from The Canadian Press

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