By Gordon Lambie
High school graduates in Quebec can have their prom this year, according to Premier François Legault, provided that they can wait until at least July 8 to do so.
Speaking on Tuesday afternoon, Legault said that in light of the fact that most high school graduates will be vaccinated by June 24, the province has decided to give leave for outdoor, mask-free prom celebrations of up to 250 people as of two weeks later.
“We’re in a better place than we thought we would be,” said Dr. Horacio Arruda, provincial public health director, in explaining the turnaround on the decision.
Legault also said that socially distanced graduation ceremonies with parents will be permitted provided that they respect social-distancing guidelines.
As of this coming Friday, bars across the province will be allowed to reopen their terraces and on Monday, June 14, every region in the province is expected to switch to either the yellow or green alert level with the possible exception of the Chaudière-Appalaches region, which may remain orange depending on how things develop over the course of the week.
Late in the day on Monday, the province’s workplace health and safety commission, the CNESST announced changes to the rules regarding mask wearing at the same time that the provincial public health authority announced that students in elementary and secondary schools could remove masks while in class. According to Arruda, the plan was always to relax mask rules once a region is in yellow or green alert, but the decision regarding students was made taking the discomfort of the current heatwave into account.
Quebec reported 150 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases since the start of the pandemic to 372,109, of which 2,400 were still considered active.
Four new deaths were reported, bringing that total to 11,156, and 263 people were in hospital for reasons linked to the virus, 60 of whom were in intensive care.
There was only one new case of the virus reported across the Eastern Townships on Tuesday, although that was partly due to the withdrawal of one case previously reported in the Pommeraie sub-region. As of Tuesday’s report, there were 144 active cases across the Eastern Townships alongside 24 people in hospital, three of whom were in intensive care, and no new deaths.
By comparison, on June 10 of 2020 the province had just surpassed 5,000 deaths linked to COVID-19, and 53,185 total cases. At the time there had been 938 total cases in the Eastern Townships, a stark contrast with the current total of 14,807.
On the vaccination front, Health Minister Christian Dube said that there are still about 195,000 eligible Quebecers who have yet to make an appointment for vaccination. He said that number changes by about 5,000 each day.
So far the province has administered 6,220,734 doses, accounting for a first dose in 66.4 per cent of the total population, and 75.9 per cent of the population over 12 years of age. As of Tuesday morning, nine per cent of the population was considered adequately vaccinated based on 600,373 second doses.
The number of people with a single dose in the Eastern Townships reached 334,762, or 66.2 per cent, on Tuesday. Of those, 36,760 have also received a second dose.