After Premiere Legault warned Quebecers last week and upgraded eight regions in the province to the Covid-19 Yellow Alert level, Health Minister Christian Dubé announced on Sunday September 20th that Montreal, along with the Chaudiere-Appalaches region and parts of Quebec City, have now been moved up to the ORANGE Alert-Level 3. “Unfortunately, the contagion is amplified in three regions. The number of cases is growing and our capacity to take care of the sick is diminishing,” he said after the province reported 427 new cases on Saturday and 462 on Sunday. Concerned with the Covid-19 testing system becoming overwhelmed, he also asked for people who do not have any symptoms of the virus, to NOT go for Covid-19 tests – unless they have have been exposed to someone with the virus or are asked to do so by a health professional. The Premier was not at the press conference as he is at home in self-isolation after a meeting last Monday with Erin O’Toole, the new Conservative party leader, who later tested positive with the Covid-19 virus.
An update on how the Covid-19 rules for private homes will be enforced is expected, as there are ‘many legal issues’ that need to be considered. Limits on the number of visits allowed to people in seniors’ residences and long-term care centers in the orange zones is also expected. Rules applying to after-school sports, schools, gyms, cinemas and ‘auditorium-style events’ remain the same. Here are the present rules and what they mean under the Orange Alert level:
LEVEL-3 Alert introduces new measures that target specific sectors of activity and settings where the risk of transmission is deemed higher. These sectors and settings will be subject to selective restrictions, prohibitions and closures. Intermediate measures in force:
- PRIVATE INDOOR OR OUTDOOR GATHERINGS: Maximum 6 people OR 2 families (i.e. 2 families with a total in excess of 6 people authorized).
- ACTIVITIES ORGANIZED IN A PUBLIC SETTING Indoor and outdoor: Maximum 25 people (Rented halls, places of worship, festival events, marriages, workplace or school celebrations, barbecues, picnics, etc.). *Venues with a liquor permit: no alcohol sales after 11:00pm, no alcohol consumption after midnight, dancing prohibited.
- PUBLIC VENUE HALLS AND AUDIENCES: Maximum 250 people. People must be seated, relatively immobile, little or no talking, staff supervision (concert halls, theatres, cinemas, public venues, etc.).
- BARS, BRASSERIES, TAVERNS, CASINOS: Maximum 6 patrons per tables. No alcohol or food sales after 11:00pm, closing at midnight. Mandatory customer name and contact list.
- RESTAURANTS: Maximum 6 patrons per tables. No alcohol sales after 11:00pm. No alcohol consumption after midnight.
- STORES: One person per household recommended. Delivery available and key family member assistance for clients with a high risk of complications.
- INTER-REGIONAL TRAVEL: Not recommended (The province is not bringing back restrictions on regional travel, but authorities want to discourage people living in orange zones from travelling to yellow or green zones).
- CHSLD: Visits for humanitarian reasons. Visits by informal caregivers who provide significant assistance. (*An update is expected).
- RPA (Private residences for seniors): No more than 6 people at a time in a rental unit, including the resident.
- OTHER LONG-TERM APPLICABLE MEASURES: Increased police intervention, infraction reports and fines for non-compliance with face-covering directives.
A return to ‘normal’, is up to the people of Quebec to make happen, by diligently following the safety and health protocols. “We must not give up, I know this is tough, for a Sunday afternoon, to have this sort of news… but I think we can make a difference over the next few weeks,” the Health Minister said. “I want to tell you that the situation is extremely preoccupying. We are not in a loss of control. We have zones that are passing to orange, which means the community spread has increased. That’s why we’re putting those measures.”