During a press conference Wednesday Quebec Premier Francois Legault imposed a curfew across Quebec between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. beginning Saturday, Jan. 9 continuing until Monday, Feb. 8.
Non-essential businesses, closed since Dec. 25, will remain closed until Feb. 8 as well, with the exception of order pickups.
Schools, however, will reopen. Elementary schools will return to class as planned on Jan. 11 with some changes. Students will need to wear a mask outside the classroom, and Grades 5 and 6 must wear a mask in class as well.
High schools will continue with online learning for one additional week, returning Jan.18, and students will be required to wear masks at all times. Two procedure masks will be provided to students and staff to be used throughout the school days.
Legault was very clear in pointing to in-home gatherings as the reason for the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the province.
Police have been mandated to issue fines between $1,000 and $6,000 to anyone found outside their home after 8 p.m. who is not working or out with good reason.
Grocery stores and other essential services must close by 7:30 p.m. but pharmacies and gas stations may remain open.
Religious gatherings are prohibited with the exception of funerals, which will be allowed for a maximum of 10 people.
Legault referred to the curfew and extension of business closures as a form of shock therapy to relay the severity of the situation to Quebecers, asking specifically the people 65 and over be especially cautious.
Individual outdoor activities are still permitted before curfew, Legault said, like walking or cross-country skiing.
But the message was clear. Outside of work, or school, stay home, the premier said.
“We’re talking about saving people’s lives,” Legault said.
During the press conference Health Minister Christian Dubé displayed the province’s vaccination plan, saying that following the current schedule, 250,000 vulnerable Quebecers will be vaccinated by Feb.8.
Dubé and Legault both gave a nudge to the federal government, pointing out that Quebec could inoculate more people of the doses were available.
Quebec reported 2,641 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the total number of people infected to 217,999 since the beginning of the pandemic.
The data also reported 47 new deaths, for a total of 8,488.
The number of hospitalizations increased by 76 compared to the previous day, for a cumulative total of 1,393. Among those, the number of people in intensive care increased by eight, for a total of 202.
Wednesday 6,221 doses of vaccine were administered, for a total of 38,984 so far in the province.
In the Estrie region 116 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, bringing the local total to 8,640.
Three new deaths were reported; two at Résidence St-Antoine in Granby and one at la résidence Les Jardins Pinecroft in Magog, bringing the total deaths in the region to 188.
Of the 74 hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 in Estrie, 57 are occupied and nine of the 25 places in intensive care are currently in use.