Three Gaspé towns moved to highest COVID-19 alert level as cases rise

The new red zone restrictions will go into effect at midnight Monday.

New red zone restrictions will go into effect at midnight Monday

Carleton-sur-Mer is one of three towns that will be placed under stricter public health guidelines starting midnight tomorrow. (Isabelle Larose/Radio-Canada)

The towns of Carleton-sur-Mer, Nouvelle and Maria in the Gaspé region will become red zones as of 11:59 p.m. Monday. 

The Quebec government made the announcement Sunday, following a significant rise in cases in the area. 

That means indoor private gatherings will be banned and restaurant dining rooms and bars will be shut down, the same public health regulations that residents and businesses in the Greater Montreal area, Quebec City area and Chaudière-Appalaches region are currently following.

The three towns currently have a total of 123 active cases, 52 of which are in long-term care homes, the regional health authority said in a news conference Sunday afternoon. 

They were initially supposed to move to the red zone earlier this week, but the decision was put off as long as possible with the hopes that case numbers would become stable, said Dr. Yv Bonnier-Viger, public health director for the Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine region. 

"It's not so simple to move into the red zone, the consequences are quite significant," said Bonnier-Viger. "In our first warning, we put measures in place on a voluntary basis but I think now the situation makes it necessary." 

Bonnier-Viger hopes to see case numbers decrease in the coming week, enough to go back down to the orange alert level. 

"I'm optimistic. For sure one week isn't a lot, probably two weeks is more likely, but I think as soon as the three municipalities get back to the totals we were seeing before, we'll get back to [orange]," he said. 

Carleton-sur-Mer Mayor Mathieu Lapointe is calling on residents to respect the new measures. 

"This is not an easy situation, obviously, but I think that it's necessary given the spread of COVID-19 that we're seeing right now," he said. 

Lapointe said he will be dedicating the next few days to find ways to better support cultural spaces and restaurants as they are forced to shut down. 

The Quebec government is strongly advising against all non-essential travel between regions. 

WATCH | Many Quebecers are now living in a red zone, but what does that mean exactly?

With files from Radio-Canada

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