COVID-19 in Quebec: What you need to know Tuesday
The province is easing some restrictions, allowing restaurants to reopen
- On Monday, Quebec reported 3,278 people in hospital (a decrease of 21 from the previous day), including 263 in intensive care (the same as the previous day).
- The province reported 2,977 new cases of COVID-19 and 85 deaths.
- Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 841,414 confirmed cases and 12,936 people have died.
- The province also reported Tuesday a total of 17,251,891 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered, including 82,197 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 41 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 Premier François Legault has announced a slight easing of some restrictions.
Restaurants will once again be allowed to reopen at half capacity as of Monday, Jan. 31. Up to four people from four different addresses, or a maximum of two family bubbles, will be allowed to share a table.
The same numbers will apply to indoor private gatherings, which will be allowed as of next Monday.
Youth sports will also get a breath of fresh air.
As of Jan. 31, all extracurricular sports will be permitted, as will organized sports outside of school, but only for Quebecers under the age of 18. A maximum of 25 participants will be allowed for practices and training. — and, ideally, they should continue to wear masks, the interim public health director, Dr. Luc Boileau, recommended.
The Montreal Botanical Garden, the Biodôme, the Planetarium as well as cafeterias in ski chalets will also be allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity next Monday. They all require a vaccination passport for access.
You can watch the conference live with English translation on this page.
Quebecers can now self-report rapid test results
Quebec's online portal where people can report the results of rapid tests from COVID-19 done at home is now online.
Health minister Christian Dubé announced the creation of the portal earlier this month when access to PCR tests was limited to more high-risk populations. That has led to a massive underrepresentation of the actual number of Quebecers who've tested positive for Covid in the province's daily case counts.
The province is asking anyone who's had a rapid test to report the results, whether they're negative or positive.
The goal is to give the province a better portrait of the actual number of COVID cases, and to allow health officials to track how many people are actually using rapid tests.
The province says the results will be for statistical use only and will not affect people's vaccination status.
No classes have been closed since return: ministry
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, and 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.
Vaccine passports now required at large retailers
As of Monday, larger retail stores in Quebec have required 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 vaccination clinics coming
On Monday, 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.
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What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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