Quebec is “heading in the right direction” as vaccination opens up to young adults and the number of new COVID-19 cases falls, the province’s premier said Tuesday.
François Legault said the upcoming months are also looking more promising compared to last summer.
“We are getting through the third wave, but we still have to be careful,” he told reporters in Quebec City.
The province is lifting emergency restrictions in the Outaouais region, in the western part of the province by the Ontario border, as hospitalizations and infections related to the pandemic drop.
Curfew will be pushed to 9:30 p.m. and non-essential businesses will reopen next week. High schools will also reopen, though students in grades 9, 10 and 11 will attend class every second day.
Legault is also asking police in the area to continue to watch for Ontarians who cross into Quebec illegally.
“It’s important that they follow their government’s rules, and that they don’t go to stores in Outaouais,” he said.
The same emergency measures will also end next Monday in Rimouski, located northeast of Quebec City.
The premier said that for the most part, the situation is improving in Quebec, with a few exceptions such as parts of the Eastern Townships, Chaudière-Appalaches and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions. He urged caution in those areas.
The regions of Lanaudière, Laurentians and Montérégie — all close to Montreal — are doing so well that Legault hinted they could soon be downgraded to orange on the province’s colour-coded pandemic response system and restaurants could reopen.
Yet, the government is not lifting more measures in the province for now. Legault says officials are working with public health to work on a reopening plan, but they remain tight-lipped on details.
When asked if high school students in designated red zones such as Montreal may return to class on a full-time basis before the end of the academic year, the director of Quebec public health said discussions are underway.
“There is a chance,” Dr. Horacio Arruda said.
Vaccination is also ramping up, with all residents in long-term care homes having received their booster shot. The next step is to give a second dose to those who live in private seniors’ residences.
Meanwhile, appointments are set to open to all adults by the end of the week. Officials are urging young Quebecers to register for their first dose.
“It’s the best way to have a great summer,” Legault said, adding that the province is getting closer to the “finish line” every day.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, anyone 25 and older can book their appointment online. The province opened up the campaign a day earlier than anticipated.
— With files from The Canadian Press