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

With masking in public spaces expected to be phased out by mid-April in Quebec, experts say some people will likely continue wearing them. But the politicization of messaging could further divide Canadians over masking in the future. Here's what you need to know.

Masks likely aren't going anywhere, experts say, even as provinces ditch mandates

People leave a large box store in Montreal wearing masks in January. As of mid-April, Quebec will phase out masking mandates in public spaces. (The Canadian Press/Graham Hughes)
  • On Wednesday, Quebec reported 1,222 people in hospital (a decrease of 30 from the previous day), including 69 in intensive care (a decrease of eight from the previous day).
  • The province reported 1,426 new cases of COVID-19 and six deaths.
  • Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 932,176 confirmed cases, and 14,126 people have died.
  • The province also reported Wednesday a total of 18,490,870 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered, including 4,942 doses 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; 87 per cent have received two doses, and 52 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.

The future of masking will look very different across Canada in the coming weeks as provinces continue to lift mandates  — but experts say some people will likely continue using them. 

University of Alberta Prof. Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in health law and policy, said the debate over masking will be the next "divisive topic" for the public going forward.

"Masks have been a divisive topic for a very long time, but I think it's really going to become the focal point," he said. "This is going to be increasingly about ideology.… This is really about where you stand politically." 

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious diseases physician in Toronto, said there's been a "huge cultural shift and a growing acceptance of mask wearing," especially during cold and flu season. 

"I think that we will see a lot more people wearing masks more frequently in the fall and winter months," he said. 

Phasing out masks in Quebec

Meanwhile, most elementary and high school students in Quebec, including in Montreal, are no longer required to wear masks in class. 

The relaxing of the measure Monday is the province's first step toward lifting other mask mandates.

Quebec's interim public health director has said that as early as next month, wearing masks would become a matter of personal choice rather than an obligation.

Masking in public spaces is expected to be phased out by mid-April, and for public transit, by sometime in May. 

Ontario announced Tuesday it will drop most COVID-19 mask mandates — including in schools, restaurants and stores — across the province on March 21.

Fewer restrictions in workplaces

Also Monday, the minimum physical-distancing requirements dropped from two metres to one between workers in Quebec workplaces, other than health care. 

Quebec's workplace health and safety board (CNESST) says wearing a mask is still mandatory if there is no physical distancing or physical barriers.

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 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 the Canadian Press