Quebec set to go green as cases drop, vaccination rate rises

With cases on the decline and the vaccination rate rising, Quebec is further loosening restrictions across the province.

Province will go to lowest alert level next Monday, but vaccination rate still lags among younger Quebecers

Premier François Legault was all smiles during a news conference where he announced the province will move to the green zone on Monday, June 28. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

With cases on the decline and the vaccination rate rising, Quebec Premier François Legault is further loosening restrictions across the province.

Starting Friday, those who have received two doses will be permitted under the health guidelines to gather inside without a mask. A maximum of 3,500 will also be allowed at outdoor festivals.

On Monday, June 28, the entire province will move to the green zone, the lowest level of alert under the province's colour-coded system. In green zones, there are more allowances in terms of gatherings and recreational sports.

WATCH | Premier François Legault outlines some new freedoms 

Bigger parties, more sports, fewer masks coming as Quebec loosens restrictions

2 years ago
Duration 1:19
Quebec Premier François Legault has announced a significant easing of public health restrictions as COVID-19 cases drop and vaccinations climb.

The key indicators of the pandemic are largely positive: the daily case numbers dropped below 100 on Tuesday for the second day in a row. The rates of hospitalizations and deaths are also low.

As well, a total of 80 per cent of the eligible population has now had a first dose of vaccine, and 20 per cent have had two doses.

However, the rate of the vaccination is considerably lower under the age of 40. The 18-29 group has the lowest rate, at 65 per cent.

At his news conference Tuesday, Legault again urged young people to get their vaccine.

"We're asking them to do that in solidarity for their parents and their grandparents, and to get collective immunity," he said, adding the province is still considering setting up a lottery to encourage them to book an appointment.

A man arrives at a COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Montreal, on Monday, June 21, 2021. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Public health officials in Montreal said their priority over the coming days will be reaching approximately 70,000 Montrealers between 12 and 45 years old who haven't had their first dose yet.

"Where we really have to focus our efforts in the coming days, and as quickly as possible, is reaching the 12- to 45-year-olds," said Sonia Belanger, head of the public health authority responsible for Montreal.

She said officials will continue their outreach efforts, deploying pop-up clinics in parks and at events. Health officials are also working with religious groups to improve vaccine coverage in certain communities.

Legault and the province's public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda, said pockets of unvaccinated people remain the biggest threat, especially given the rise of the more transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 first identified in India.

"If there is a place where there are non-vaccinated people, it will get in and make people very sick," Arruda said.

Wariness about Delta variant

The Delta variant has been the source of outbreaks in Ontario but remains under control in Quebec, where there have been only 35 documented cases.

Legault said the rise of cases in the United Kingdom represents a cautionary tale for how quickly things can change. He said getting two doses of vaccine is the best way to avoid a harmful fourth wave.

Montreal's public health director, Dr. Mylène Drouin, warned that the Delta variant was likely to spread from Montreal to the rest of the province, and urged Montrealers to do their part to prevent that from happening.

"I'm really asking young people, their parents, young adults — don't hesitate to get vaccinated. It's really a collective effort," she said. 

Anyone 25 and over is eligible to move up their second appointment, and the province has an influx of the Moderna vaccine.

Health Minister Christian Dubé encouraged those who got a first shot of Pfizer to get a second shot of Moderna if they wish.

Anyone who had a confirmed case of COVID-19 and wants a second dose to comply with travel requirements can also do so.

With files from Jonathan Montpetit