By Gordon Lambie
Quebec Premier François Legault gave the green light to the first steps of the province’s reopening plan on Tuesday afternoon.
The plan, announced last week, will see the curfew eliminated across the province on Friday, along with authorization for gatherings of groups from two households, or a maximum of eight people from different households in private yards. Restaurant patios will also reopen. The following Monday, May 31, the majority of regions in Quebec will shift back to the orange alert level, including all of the Estrie except for the Granit sub-region, which will remain under red alert status for at least another week.
“If we continue this way, all regions should turn orange by June 7,” Legault said, with provincial Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda later clarifying that the date represents a goal, rather than a promise.
Tuesday also marked the start of vaccination for 12 to 17-year-olds in the province. As the youngest age group to date opened up, the premier issued a reminder to those who have yet to make an appointment that it is better to do so sooner than later.
Health Minister Christian Dube, meanwhile, announced that the province soon hopes to move up the dates of second vaccination doses, with the hope of having everyone who wants to be fully vaccinated by the end of August.
The Province of Quebec reported 346 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of people infected to 368,155 and the number of active cases to 5,365.
Six new deaths were reported, for a total of 11,101, and hospitalizations decreased by nine, to 415. The number of people in intensive care decreased by one, to 101.
There were 31 new cases reported in the Eastern Townships, bringing the number of active cases locally to 430, and the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 14,536.
There were two new deaths reported in the region, one at Éden sur le Lac private seniors’ residence in the Granit area, and one in the community.
The number of people in hospital and intensive care in the region did not change from Monday to Tuesday, remaining at 19 hospitalizations and an additional five in intensive care.
Emergency measures were lifted in the Granit region, despite the fact that the sub region still had the highest rate of infection and number of active cases of any other.
As of Tuesday morning 5,051,681 doses of vaccine had been administered across Quebec, resulting in 55.7 per cent coverage with a first dose and 5.5 per cent deemed adequately vaccinated
Locally, 279,147 people have received at least one dose, accounting for 55.2 per cent of the regional population.