By Matthew McCully
The health ministry announced that COVID-19 health directives will be further relaxed concerning events, auditoriums and bars. The changes will come into effect on Sunday, Aug. 1 at 12:01 a.m.
The new relaxed rules will apply throughout Quebec, with all regions in the green zone.
During events where people remain seated in specific places, including amateur sports and leisure events with bleachers or stands, the current capacity of 50 people inside will increase to 250, and the limit of 100 people outside will increase to 500. The new rules include assemblies, meetings, conventions or ceremonies, and places of worship.
Stadiums, halls and festivals will also have their capacity increased from 5,000 to 15,000 people, divided into separate sections of 500.
Inside, the current capacity of 3,500 people will be increased to7,500 people divided into individual sections of 500.
In addition, bars, restaurants and microbreweries will be able to serve alcohol until 1 a.m. instead of midnight as at present, but they bars and microbreweries must close at 2 a.m.
Social distancing measures remain mandatory, both inside and outside. The wearing of masks or face coverings is also required in indoor public places, particularly when people are walking around.
COVID-19 vaccination- additional dose remains an exception
The health ministry clarified on Monday that the administration of an additional dose of vaccine is an exceptional measure for people who have an essential trip planned outside the country in the short term and who must meet vaccination requirements.
Currently, there is no international consensus on the criteria for a person to be recognized as ‘adequately vaccinated’. Discussions are ongoing with the federal government to ensure that mixed or two-dose scenarios of AstraZeneca or Covishield’s vaccine are more widely recognized internationally. Further instructions may be issued in the future.
In the meantime, certain exceptional measures are possible in Quebec to accommodate people who have an essential trip planned in the short term. The possibility of obtaining an additional dose of an mRNA vaccine to meet vaccination requirements in a foreign country had already been mentioned earlier in press briefings by the national director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda.
In both Quebec and Canada, a mixed schedule, including a viral vector vaccine (AstraZeneca or Covishield) and an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna), is considered to be entirely valid. The vaccines are considered interchangeable, following the recommendations of the Comité sur l’immunisation du Québec (CIQ) and the Comité consultatif national sur l’immunisation (CCNI), and all offer very good protection against COVID-19.
Individuals in exceptional situations will be counselled on the appropriateness of receiving an additional dose based on their situation and needs, and will be asked to give their informed consent. The minimum interval of four weeks must be respected before an additional dose is administered.
As of Monday, 3,875 people have received an additional dose in Quebec out of a total of over 10 million doses administered in the province.
It was previously announced that people who have already had COVID-19 can obtain a second dose of vaccine, particularly if they wish to travel and must meet the requirement of a double vaccination.
Quebec reported 75 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday (298 new cases since the last update), bringing the total number of people infected to 376,828. There are currently 814 active cases in the province, and 364,774 people have recovered.
One death was reported since the last provincial update, for a total of 11,240 deaths.
Hospitalizations remained stable at 67, and 20 patients are currently in intensive care, a decrease of one since the last update;
Two new cases were reported in the Estrie region, both in the Haute-Yamaska, for a total of seven active cases in the region, according to the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS.