Quebec daycares won't close again if there's a second wave, province says

The province has released a new set of directives for daycares in the event of an uptick in COVID-19 cases. One of the big takeaways? They won't be shut down again.

Health Minister Christian Dubé says a facility will be closed only if there's an outbreak

Home daycare workers in Quebec want better wages, among other demands. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Quebec won't close down its public daycare network if there's a second wave of COVID-19.

As part of new directives made public Thursday, Health Minister Christian Dubé said the province will keep daycares open because the measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus inside the facilities have worked, and there's growing evidence that it doesn't spread easily among young children.

A daycare will be closed only if there's an outbreak at the facility, he said. 

"Once you have a second case in a daycare that's linked with the first one, that's what we call an outbreak,'' added Dr. Richard Massé of Quebec's public health agency.

Quebec had its first COVID-19 outbreak at a daycare in May, when 12 children and four employees at a centre in Mascouche, in the Laurentians region just north of Montreal, tested positive for the disease.

But Dubé noted that, overall, there have been only 123 recorded cases in Quebec daycares since March — 57 of them among children.

Daycares were shut down in the spring for all but the children of essential workers until June 1, when they started to gradually reopen.

Dubé said closing the network put a strain on parents and he would like to avoid doing that again. 

"We do not intend to shut down the entire network," he said at a news conference. 

He also announced a new self-assessment tool parents can use to determine if their children should stay home.

Watch: Public health's Dr. Richard Massé explains the plan:

Daycare outbreaks won't force regional shutdowns, Quebec government says

3 years ago
Duration 2:37
If a COVID-19 outbreak happens at a daycare, the government won't quarantine an entire region, Quebec's public health strategic adviser, Dr. Richard Massé said.

With files from The Canadian Press