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COVID-19 in Quebec: What you need to know this weekend

Dog owners will soon be able to walk their pets after curfew. Here's what you need to know.

Province to make exception for dog walking past curfew

In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, restaurants in Quebec had to close their dining rooms as of 5 p.m. Friday. (The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)
  • Quebec reported 15,845 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and 13 new deaths.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 636,035 confirmed cases and 11,745 people have died.
  • There are 1,231 people in hospital (an increase of 70 from the previous day), including 162 in intensive care (an increase of nine). 
  • The province has administered a total of 15,310,917 doses of COVID-19 vaccines as of Saturday.
  • 89 per cent of the eligible population in the province (ages five and up) has received one dose of vaccine, 82 per cent have received two doses, and 17 per cent have received three doses.

Quebec plans to grant an exemption for walking dogs past curfew, after concerned pet owners drew attention to the discrepancy between this year's curfew and the previous one. 

In the decree specifying the terms of the curfew, leaving one's house between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. to walk a dog is not a valid reason for breaking curfew, Health Minister Christian Dubé confirmed to La Presse Canadienne

Marie-Hélène Émond, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, said the government intends to include the "missing exception again as soon as possible."

Last year, the curfew had a provision for residents to walk their dogs within a one-kilometre radius of their home.

The Quebec City region's hospital network announced today that it will be postponing about 56 per cent of surgeries so it can free up 60 more nurses to treat COVID patients. 

It is also delaying other non-urgent procedures and converting several medical appointments into phone consultations. 

The head of the hospital network, Martin Beaumont, said it was already operating with about 600 less health workers than it needed, and now has about that number in isolation due to the virus. 

He asked people to be patient and compassionate with the network's exhausted staff. 

"The elastic is extremely stretched — so much so that you can see the white in the middle," Beaumont said.

Anyone with questions about changes in their appointment or surgery can call 418-649-5654, an information phone line open from Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Opposition parties criticize curfew

Quebec's three main opposition parties are criticizing the provincial government's decision to impose a 10 p.m. curfew, which began New Year's Eve, arguing the health order is a sign of the government's failure to prepare.

If the premier had acted earlier, then there would be less of a need for such strong measures, Opposition Liberal house leader André Fortin told The Canadian Press on Friday.

The curfew was imposed in an effort to curb the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant. Other measures, such as closing restaurant dining rooms, delaying the reopening of schools and closing non-essential businesses on Sundays, also took effect Friday at 5 p.m. 

The new restrictions have added even more strain for restaurateurs who have been struggling to recoup losses caused by previous pandemic restrictions.

"We lost over $80,000 in the last three weeks," said Jae-Anthony Dougan, chef and co-owner at Tropikal Restobar.

"Christmas parties, New Year's Eve and day events — it is what it is."

In a tweet Friday, Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said he spoke with representatives from the restaurant industry and said the government will find ways to compensate those struggling with lost inventory. Details are expected next week.

Infected health-care staff working in Eastern Townships

In the Eastern Townships, some COVID-positive health-care staff are back at work after the region's hospitals reached full capacity. 

The local health authority, the CIUSSS de l'Estrie-CHUS, said the move was the last resort. Asymptomatic workers can now go back after just seven days in isolation instead of the standard 10, per the government's new directives.

Despite this, some hospital managers are still cutting some services because more than 800 workers in the region are absent with the virus.

Sophie Seguin, president of the union that represents health care workers in the Townships, FIQ-SPSCE, said she's worried hospitals could face more outbreaks, especially without N95 masks, as nurses will be sharing tight work spaces. 

In an internal memo obtained by CBC News, the health authority explained it will account for vaccination statuses and try to place workers returning earlier in hot zones.

No isolation for kids in contact with COVID-positive peers

In a new directive quietly passed on to childcare services by the Quebec government Friday, children and staff in daycares across the province who have been in contact with a positive case at the daycare will no longer have to isolate and will be able to remain in the centre if they have no symptoms.

Those who are asymptomatic are also not required to get tested.

Until now, those who had been in close contact with a positive case, including educators, had to self-isolate for 10 days.

Masks are also not required for children in childcare centres, even if they have been in contact with a COVID-positive person. 

No more rapid tests in Quebec pharmacies

Quebec pharmacies have run out of rapid tests, according to a group representing pharmacist-owners, the Association québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires

The association's president told Radio-Canada that more rapid tests likely won't be available until next week, and when those tests will be delivered has yet to be confirmed. 

"It does not help to contact us to try to get some," said Benoit Morin. "There are none at the moment."

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, Radio-Canada and Franca Mignacca

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