As Quebec surpasses 1,000 new cases, government expected to shut down sports
Team sports and contact sports could be banned as early as Monday, Radio-Canada has learned
Hockey, football and judo may no longer be allowed in the province's red zones starting next week, as the province tries to control an ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases.
According to a working public health document obtained by Radio-Canada, no team sports or contact sports will be allowed in red zones.
Earlier this week, the Greater Montreal area, Quebec City area and Chaudière-Appalaches region were labelled as red zones and placed under new restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Those restrictions included banning indoor private gatherings and shutting down restaurant dining rooms and bars.
While gyms and indoor sports facilities were allowed to remain open in those regions, it now seems that may not be the case for much longer.
"We will be coming back to you with a very clear announcement regarding sports. We need to analyze every situation. In principle, it isn't recommended," Quebec's public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said at a news conference earlier this week.
In a news conference Friday, Premier François Legault said the government would be making an announcement about sports and schools next Monday, though he did not specify exactly what that announcement would be.
According to the document, all individual sports, such as yoga or running, will be allowed to continue in red zones. However, all locker rooms and shared spaces, with the exception of washrooms, will be closed.
As for sports in elementary and high schools in red zones, the documents state that they can be practised only within class groups.
On Monday, Montreal's public health director Mylène Drouin said outbreaks in sports teams have been on the rise in recent weeks.
Latest case numbers 'critical'
The province's second wave of cases reached new heights Friday, with 1,052 new cases reported — the highest single-day total since May 1 when there were 1,057 new cases.
It is also the third-highest single-day total the province has seen since the pandemic started.
On top of that, hospitalizations increased once again, seeing a jump of 27 overnight, and the province now has a seven-day moving average of 94.5 cases per million inhabitants — a statistic health authorities had hoped to keep below 25.
Legault said the latest case numbers should be reason enough for Quebecers to start taking the new health measures seriously.
"Today's numbers show us that the situation is really critical," said Legault.
"It's urgent to reduce our social contacts. We might need to close other activities in the coming days."
Legault urged people to stay two metres apart from anyone who is not in their household.
The government also announced it would be setting up check points to discourage residents from travelling between regions.
Announcement coming on schools
Legault said the province is still doing everything possible to keep schools open.
"Regarding schools, for me, it's the last place I want to close," Legault said.
He said public health officials are looking into the possibility of expanding mask rules in the school system by making them mandatory in classrooms — something parents and health professionals have been calling for since before schools even reopened.
As of Thursday, there were 1,341 active cases of COVID-19 among staff and students in the province's schools.
Of the 2,997 schools in the system, 636 schools currently have at least one active case.
With files from Radio-Canada's Jean-François Blanchet and Audrey Paris