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

The education minister says the school reopening is going well. Some large retail stores in Quebec now require a vaccination passport for entry. Here's what you need to know.

Some larger stores now require vaccination passport

Quebec has expanded the vaccine mandate to include all businesses with surface areas of 1,500 square metres or more — with the exception of groceries and pharmacies.  (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)
  • On Monday, Quebec reported 3,299 people in hospital (an increase of 16 from the previous day), including 263 in intensive care (a decrease of ten from the previous day).
  • The province reported 2,807 new cases of COVID-19 and 52 deaths.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 838,437 confirmed cases and 12,851 people have died.
  • The province also reported Saturday a total of 17,165,403 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered, including 62,562 in the last 24 hours.
  • 90 per cent of the eligible population in the province (ages five and up) have received one dose of the vaccine, 83 per cent have received two doses, and 40 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.

Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said at a news conference Monday that he hasn't heard of any schools or classrooms in Quebec that have been closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks since students returned to in-person learning last week.

Roberge said the ministry reached out to a number of school boards last week and there were no closures reported.

"One hundred per cent of our classes and our schools were open," Roberge said.

"It's possible that there are some exceptions at the margins, but the portrait that I have had of the past week so far is that the network is open as we wished,"  Roberge said.

With the return to class the province introduced new guidelines for managing outbreaks in schools.

Parents are no longer automatically informed in the event of positive COVID cases in their child's school or class.

Classes are only shut down if a minimum of 60 per cent of students are in isolation at any given time.

Roberge said students were expected to be in class, despite fears from some parents about a lack of transparency.

Radio-Canada reported Monday that some parents and teachers were exchanging information on social media to keep track of cases at schools.

Roberge said that information is no longer relevant.

"The fact that there have been cases or withdrawals in the class does not justify keeping our children at home," Roberge said, noting that as a father himself he had no problem sending his daughter to school this morning.

"I didn't need to know in order to send my child to school if there were one or two or three children in her class who may be absent, perhaps because of COVID, perhaps because at home their father or their mother is positive," he added. 

Vaccine passports now required at large retailers

Starting today, some larger retailers stores in Quebec will require a vaccination passport for entry.

In a bid to persuade COVID-19 vaccine holdouts to get the jab, Quebec has expanded the vaccine mandate to include all businesses with surface areas of 1,500 square metres or more — with the exception of groceries and pharmacies. 

The province's health ministry released a ministerial decree detailing the parameters of the new directive Sunday night. 

For pharmacies located in big-box stores, such as Walmart or Costco, an unvaccinated person must be "accompanied at all times during his or her travels by an employee of the business, the pharmacy or any other person mandated by them for this purpose," the decree reads. This person may not purchase products other than those related to the pharmaceutical service they are receiving.

Gas stations affiliated with big-box stores and vehicle service stations are also exempt from the vaccination requirement. 

More pop up clinics coming

Today, Lionel Carmant, Quebec's junior health minister, announced the province will make an extra push to convince unvaccinated Quebecers to get a shot. He says there about 540,000 eligible Quebecers who have not had any vaccine.

Carmant says while some people are philosophically opposed to the vaccine, others would be willing to get their shots if the process was explained to them and access was easier. Pop-up vaccine clinics will begin next week and the province hopes to make inroads by the end of March.

PLQ proposal for reopening economy

The leader of Quebec's official opposition (PLQ) is calling on the province to create a squad to coordinate the reopening of the province's economy as well as prepare for potential next waves of the pandemic. 

At a news conference Sunday, Dominique Anglade unveiled her plan for a "COVID-19 unit" with a goal of adapting to life with the virus and preventing the economy from closing down in the event of a future wave. 

Anglade wants to see a plan for each sector affected by the closures, as the business world, restaurants, arts and culture, manufacturing, schools and places of worship do not have the same challenges to meet.

The party wants the establishment of an independent scientific committee that will be part of the planning, saying Quebec must separate politics from science. 

Quebec's Health Ministry came out against the PLQ's proposal, saying a new structure would create more red tape.

Rapid tests delayed

The delivery of three million rapid tests in Quebec will be delayed for at least three days, according to the head of the association representing pharmacy owners. 

According to Benoît Morin of the Association québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires, the millions of rapid tests expected to arrive Saturday will only reach pharmacies by Tuesday or Wednesday. 

Another delivery of at least three million tests should arrive next week. 

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

 

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story indicated that the education minister said no schools or classrooms had been closed to COVID-19 outbreaks. In fact, the minister was referring only to schools or classrooms among those his ministry had surveyed.
    Jan 24, 2022 5:23 PM ET

With files from La Presse Canadienne and Radio-Canada

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