At a press conference late Tuesday evening, Quebec premier François Legault announced COVID-19 restrictions in Orange and Red Zones, including Montreal, would be tightened to deter the worst of a nationwide ‘third wave’ leaving provincial governments scrambling to allocate vaccines amid spiking case counts.
“We are in a fragile situation that is not yet critical, but may become so. […] We need to act in a preventive manner and increase our level of precaution,” the Premier wrote on social media after his press conference.
Alongside restrictions on in-person school attendance, which included reimposing the hybrid in-person/virtual model for Secondary III, IV and V students, McGill students should note that Montreal’s indoor gyms will be closed as of tomorrow, Thursday, April 8, despite their access being granted merely two weeks ago.
Other restrictions include a mandatory two-metre distance between cinema and theatre spectators who live separately and a maximum of 25 people at houses of worship. McGill Athletics will continue to offer its recreational activities in the fitness centre’s absence.
Delight over Montreal’s gyms and some team sports reopening on March 26 was quickly threatened by case increases in urban centres such as Gatineau and Quebec City. On Monday, the province reported 1,252 new cases, adding to a total of more than 10,000 active. If Thursday’s new case count rises above 1,000, Quebec will have recorded the same number of new cases for the ninth straight day. Nearly 11,000 people have died in Quebec since the beginning of the pandemic; the highest death toll of any Canadian province.
Montreal Gazette columnist Allison Hanes derided “Yo-Yo Legault” Tuesday for his “maddening tendency to loosen measures too soon, at the slightest signal of hope, and tighten them too late, when trouble is already brewing.” In what Hanes perceives as a futile attempt at reopening while cases still have the potential to spike, she claims the premier “loses the compliance and co-operation of more people due to the confusion, inconsistency, contradiction and chaos.”
If cases in Montreal continue to rise, Legault warns, he “will not hesitate” to reinstate this winter’s 8 PM curfew in place of the 9:30 PM status quo.
Meanwhile, however, Quebec residents observe more signs of a return to normal. Students should note that tennis, badminton, indoor ice rinks and pools remain open, with masks required for the former three. In addition, Quebec residents 55 and older will have access to the AstraZeneca vaccine by Thursday.