As cases drop, Quebec could loosen restrictions in some regions next month
But Montrealers will have to wait longer, premier says
Premier François Legault says he may lift some restrictions in parts of Quebec early next month, if the number of cases and hospitalizations continue to decline.
Legault said Tuesday he will make a final decision next week about what measures to extend beyond Feb. 8.
However, in Montreal and the surrounding area, Legault said the level of transmission and hospitalization is still too high, and residents will need to wait longer.
"We have more reason to be careful with the new variants of the virus," Legault said at a news conference.
"We have to stay patient and we have to keep our spirits high."
When asked when Montreal might see measures lifted, he said it was "too soon to answer." He said the rate of transmission and the pressure on hospitals must still come down.
The government had varying levels of restrictions across the province last fall under its colour-coded alert system, but faced criticism for its muddled messaging.
Eventually, as cases soared, it imposed greater restrictions on nearly the entire province.
Health Minister Christian Dubé said the government is still trying to determine which regions could see which restrictions lifted, and whether there would be limits on travel to those areas.
Dubé said having police set up perimeters could be difficult, given their other demands — including enforcing the curfew.
The Saguenay, Lower St. Lawrence and North Shore are among the regions that have succeeded in substantially bringing down the number of cases in recent weeks.