No ­major mask ­issues in the Townships

By Gordon Lambie

Quebec’s new regulations requiring the wearing of a mask or face covering in all indoor public spaces went into effect over the weekend on the eve of the province’s annual construction holiday.
Although not welcomed by all, the measure seems to have been mainly respected by the local population, with the Sûreté du Québec reporting no incidents in the Townships related to masks over the weekend.
Although an increase in confirmed cases coupled with word of outbreaks in a few Montreal-area bars in the week leading up to the new mask rules led to a great deal of public speculation and debate about the safety of reopening the drinking establishments, several different government representatives spoke up on the weekend with concerns about the risks of private gatherings.
“Private gatherings of more than ten people, outdoors or indoors, remain forbidden,” said Health and Social Services Minister Christian Dubé. “The rule also applies in chalets and campsites, which we know are very popular with Quebecers during the summer season. We really need everyone’s collaboration so as not to go backwards and return to isolation.”
According to the health ministry, initial data on the rise in cases in the province last week pointed to private parties and not bar visits as the main cause. Despite this, Dubé reiterated the government’s readiness to close ­establishments that have been reopened if they prove to be areas where people are unable to practice proper hygiene measures.
“It is essential at this time that the measures we have put in place are respected if we want to avoid the spread of the virus and keep the bars open,” the minister said. “We also strongly recommend that businesses keep a registry, including customer contact information to facilitate epidemiological investigations in the event of an outbreak. We will also continue inspections throughout the holidays, with the CNESST, so as to ensure that the various public health directives are respected. I continue to monitor the situation very closely and do everything to ensure that the efforts of Quebecers over the past few months are not wasted.”
14,952 tests were conducted in the province on Friday, surpassing the stated goal of 14,000 per day for the first time.
Province-wide the cumulative number of cases was 57,300 at the end of the day on Friday, with 50,027 of those considered recovered and 5,654 dead. A total of 248 people were still in hospital, with 15 of those in intensive care. The number of people considered to have recovered increased significantly on Friday, according to Quebec’s public health institute, due to a change in the way that recovery is defined.
In the Estrie region, numbers remained unchanged. The total number of confirmed cases (including those who have recovered or died since March) sat at 983. There have been no new COVID-19 related deaths since June 23.

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