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COVID-19 in Quebec: What you need to know Monday

After being shut down since December, venues across Quebec's cultural sector, including cinemas, sports venues and places of worship, are set to partially reopen today.

Cinemas, sports centres, places of worship can reopen today with limited capacity

Cinemas, theatres, concert halls and sports venues are allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity or a maximum of 500 people (1,000 for outdoor events) and proof of vaccination is required for entry. (Daniel Demois)
  • On Monday, Quebec reported 2,425 people in hospital (an increase of 14 from the previous day), including 178 in intensive care (an increase in one from the previous day).
  • The province reported 2,240 new cases of COVID-19 and 20 deaths.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 883,192 confirmed cases and 13,495 people have died.
  • The province also reported Monday a total of 17,992,280 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered, including 21,748 in the last 24 hours. 
  • 91 per cent of the eligible population in the province (aged five and up) have received one dose of the vaccine; 85 per cent have received two doses, and 47 per cent have received three doses.

The new cases are those reported to the Quebec government only. They are believed to be an underrepresentation of the virus's spread, given the limited availability of PCR tests and use of home testing kits.

Venues across Quebec's cultural sector are set to partially reopen today after being shut down since December.

Cinemas, theatres, concert halls and sports venues are allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity or a maximum of 500 people (1,000 for outdoor events) and proof of vaccination is required for entry.

Places of worship can also reopen with a cap of 250 vaccinated people.

As the province enters the second phase of its reopening plan amid an ongoing decline in hospitalizations, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante is calling on the government to provide a concrete reopening plan for the spring and summer.

"Other provinces have this plan, they have this predictability, but not Quebec," she said. "Montreal, as a cultural metropolis, economic locomotive, needs this plan to support its entire [cultural] industry."

The first phase in the province's reopening plan began last week when restaurant dining rooms reopened to patrons and school sports were allowed to resume.

The next phase will see restrictions lift for all indoor sports, gyms and spas as of Feb. 14, while bars and casinos will remain closed until further notice.

Protests in Quebec City wane

Quebec City police made one arrest after crowds of protesters opposed to COVID-19 restrictions converged in front of the National Assembly Saturday.

Officers arrested a 31-year-old man for blocking traffic with his vehicle.

Police issued 11 tickets to protesters for disturbing the peace and 10 for violating the Highway Safety Code. 

Since Thursday evening, trucks and smaller vehicles had poured into the city from across the province.

Convoys of drivers came from different parts of the province including the North Shore, Lower St-Lawrence, Saguenay and Beauce regions.

The protesters, including families with children, cheered and waved signs calling for the end of vaccine passports and other public health restrictions. 
A protester waves a flag on Honoré-Mercier Boulevard, in front of Bonhomme's Ice Palace, one of the sites for the Carnaval de Québec. Protests against COVID-19 measures are taking place throughout the weekend, coinciding with the start of the winter carnival. (CBC/Justin Hayward)

On Sunday, protesters vacated the area after police ordered them to leave by 5 p.m., but organizers warned they'll be coming back in a few weeks if all COVID-19 restrictions aren't lifted. 

Mixed messaging on masks for sports

Sports are slowly resuming across Quebec, but some young athletes are frustrated with the muddied guidelines around when and where masks must be worn. 

Children and youths under 18 were allowed to return to indoor sports on Jan. 31, for practices only, with gatherings limited to 25 people. The province has said masks must be worn at all times, for all ages, if a sport is taking place in a school or as an extracurricular activity.

However, if the sport is taking place in a public space, such as a municipal facility, the new rules depend on the age of the participants: children under the age of 10 are not required to wear a mask. For all those 10 and up, a mask is mandatory at all times, except during an intense period of play, the Health Ministry said this week. 

Quebec players are trying to navigate the province's ambiguous guidelines on masking and say they are disappointed by public health measures that limit teams to practices only.  (Kwabena Oduro/CBC News)

When asked to clarify the rules last week, interim director of public health Dr. Luc Boileau said that he recommends wearing the mask at all times, "but if there are very intense activities, it is understandable that it may not be worn."

"It is obvious that if you are very hot, you are doing an intense sport, you are on the ice, for example, you could take off the mask if you feel more comfortable taking it off," said Boileau.

Hospitalizations could rise in February

Public health officials in Quebec are warning that the relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions in recent weeks may lead to an increase in hospitalizations in February, but they admit it's difficult to say with certainty.

"We shouldn't worry too much, but it's quite likely that the lifting of measures will lead to more contagion, with the risk in particular of seeing more hospitalizations," said the interim director of public health, Dr. Luc Boileau, at a news conference Wednesday.

The number of COVID-19 patients occupying hospital beds in Quebec have steadily declined over the last couple of weeks, and the latest projections from Quebec's institute of public health, INSPQ, suggest that decline could continue, but that the relaxing of public health measures may slow the decline or cause an increase in cases in the weeks to come.

Boileau said much of what happens will depend on the behaviour of Quebecers. He said social distancing, masking, and getting vaccinated remain important.

Top COVID-19 stories

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

       
  • Fever. 
  •    
  • New or worsening cough. 
  •    
  • Difficulty breathing. 
  •    
  • Sudden loss of smell without a stuffy nose.
  •    
  • Gastrointestinal issues (such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting).
  •    
  • Sore throat
  •    
  • Generalized muscle pain.
  •    
  • Headache.
  •    
  • Fatigue.
  •    
  • Loss of appetite.

If you think you may have COVID-19, the government asks that you call 1‑877‑644‑4545 to schedule an appointment at a screening clinic. 

To reserve an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, you can go on the online portal quebec.ca/covidvaccine. You can also call 1-877-644-4545.

You can find information on COVID-19 in the province here and information on the situation in Montreal here

 

With files from La Presse Canadienne and Radio-Canada

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