Non-­essential businesses to remain closed till May 4

By Matthew McCully

With COVID-19 cases still on an upward slope in the province, Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced during his Sunday briefing that non-essential businesses will remain closed until May 4. Legault had previously set a deadline of April 13, but explained that until positive cases are on a downward curve re-opening businesses would not be wise. On a positive note, Legault sited Goggle data that suggests Quebecers are nailing social distancing. The Premier said that according to data collected by the online site the province is putting more effort into safe distance measures than any other Canadian provinces or American States.
“Physical distancing is the most powerful weapon we have to win the battle,” Legault said, explaining that the province is reaching a critical phase in the fight against COVID-19. “We are preparing the restart of the economy, but if we relax our efforts, we just extend the moment we will be able to go back to our lives. Every action counts more than ever, each gesture saves lives,” he said. In the meantime, Legault said he understands how discouraged local businesses must be, especially entrepreneurs that spent years developing a business that are now falling victim to a crisis beyond their control. Minister of Economy and Innovation Pierre Fitzgibbon accompanied Legault during yesterday’s briefing to explain some of the measures in place to help stimulate the local economy once the curve is flattened and businesses begin to re-open.
The province has launched a new digital resource called le Panier Bleu. The goal of the digital platform is to unite Quebec products and businesses in one place and encourage citizens to support the local economy. According to Fitzgibbon, $5 spent per Quebec household would represent a billion dollar boost to the local economy.
On the personal protective equipment (PPE) front, Legault said a shipment of gloves and N-95 masks has arrived and the province has enough inventory for 13 days. Orders are also on the way for surgical masks and protective gowns. For the moment there is enough for seven days, Legault said. The province is currently working on alternative sources and finding businesses that can produce PPEs here. Legault said in the coming weeks and months, orders, especially those coming from other countries, could be harder to come by. As of Sunday afternoon, there were 7,944 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the province, up 947 from the day before. Of those, 516 are in the Estrie region. There were 19 new deaths, bringing the total in Quebec to 94. There are 527 patients hospitalized because of COVID-19, with 144 in intensive care.

Published in the Monday, April 6 edition of The Record.

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