As variants continue to hit hard, Quebec extends lockdown measures

Legault said that the province's vaccination campaign is progressing well and despite concerns about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, says he hasn't given up on the goal that all Quebecers who want to be vaccinated will have their first dose by June 24.

Premier appeals to younger people, clarifies mandatory masks for outdoor activities

Quebec Premier Francois Legault delivers remarks next to Health Minister Christian Dube and Quebec Director of Public Health Dr. Horacio Arruda. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Premier François Legault announced on Tuesday that the lockdown measures in Quebec City, Chaudière-Appalaches and the Outaouais region will be extended until April 25.

This means the curfew, closure of non-essential businesses and schools being online only in those regions remains in effect. The measures are also being extended to cover the entirety of the Chaudière-Appalaches and Outaouais regions.

The curfew in Montreal and Laval remains unchanged.

Legault said that the North Shore has been upgraded from a yellow to an orange zone. He reiterated that people are forbidden to travel from red and orange zones to yellow and green zones without an acceptable reason.

He added that even though the North Shore has been moved to orange, people from other orange and red zones are not permitted to travel there without cause.

He said police road blocks won't be set up, but those who are caught travelling without an eligible reason will face steep fines. 

In addition, someone returning to their principal residence located in a green or yellow zone from a red or orange zone must self-isolate for 14 days.

Younger people landing in hospitals

Legault said that the province's vaccination campaign is progressing well and that he hasn't given up on the goal that all Quebecers who want to be vaccinated will have their first dose by June 24.

However, he also said that his optimistic prediction a few weeks ago that some measures could be lifted once people over the age of 65 were vaccinated is now no longer practical.

With people in their 20s, 30s and 40s being hospitalized, it's clear, he said, that normality will return only when everyone who wants a vaccine has received a dose — likely by the end of June.

Until then, Legault appealed to the population, particularly young people, to continue following the rules.

"We have to resist for 73 more days, I'm counting on you all," he said.

Legault said that throughout the pandemic, he has been appealing to young people to respect the rules in solidarity with older people who face a bigger risk of complications from the virus.

Now, he said, with more younger people being hospitalized, he wants to remind young people that they too can experience complications.

"We see that the number of people under 60 going to hospitals is increasing, has doubled, since the first wave," he said.

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"The consequences are serious. We're talking in some cases about long-term migraines, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of smell, trouble concentrating."

"This morning we saw reports of a 36-year-old man in Saint-Hyacinthe who's been [in hospital] about 10 days, who can no longer walk because as soon as he gets up, he's dizzy. It's very possible for people 20, 30, 40, 50 to get COVID and experience serious consequences."

Outdoor mask rules 

Legault also took the opportunity to clarify the new rules that require people to wear masks outside during group activities.

He said that for outside activities, which can include a maximum of eight people in red zones, people must wear a mask unless they are only gathering with people in their direct household.

For picnics, he said people can take off their masks only once seated, as long as they are at least two metres apart from anyone else.

Legault added that people across the province who work in an essential service outlined by the government can start booking vaccination appointments as of Wednesday. 

Speaking for the first time since the curfew in Montreal returned from 9:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., Legault addressed the two consecutive nights of protests which resulted in acts of vandalism and arrests.

On Monday night there were six arrests and 192 tickets handed out. On Sunday, there were seven arrests and 108 tickets.

Legault said that he feels "the vast majority of Quebecers support the measures" and that "it's a very, very small minority of Quebecers" who are protesting.

He added that the situation is under control and that if there are subsequent anti-curfew protests, police will be standing by.