Last Friday the provincial government announced that gyms will be able to reopen and some no-contact sports will be able to resume practices across Quebec as of March 26. The announcement, made by junior Education Minister and Brome-Missiquoi MNA Isabelle Charest, allows all indoor facilities to reopen for individual practice or training, in groups of two, or between members of one household, even in red zones. Outdoor activities in red zones will also be authorized for groups of up to eight people.
In orange zones, like the Eastern Townships, the cap on participants in one activity outdoors will be increased to 12, and indoor activities will be permitted for a group of up to eight, provided that physical distancing is maintained and a registry is kept of participants’ contact information.
Charest also reiterated the fact that extracurricular activities and field trips will be permitted within stable class groups as of Monday, March 15, but added that as of March 26, students from different class groups will be permitted to engage in interscholastic, no-contact activities together so long as they respect the established participant caps of 12 outdoors and eight indoors. Despite this change, games and competitions between teams and schools remain off-limits for the time being.
The announcement also indicated that lifeguard training and other similar courses for safety personnel are now permitted.
The Province of Quebec recorded 674 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, after 789 on Saturday and 753 on Friday. The new additions increased the overall total number of people who have contracted the virus in the province to 297,592, and brought the number of active cases to 7,022. Five new deaths were recorded on Sunday, alongside one on Saturday and eight on Friday, bringing the provincial total to 10,540. The number of hospitalizations decreased by 16 from where it was on Thursday to 547, and the number of people in intensive care decreased by 11 over the weekend to a total of 100.
Another 31,611 doses of vaccine were added, bringing the total to 715,581 so far out of 948,565 doses of vaccine that have been received. This total accounts for 8.4 per cent of the total population of the province, nearly double the percentage that had been vaccinated as of only two weeks ago.
The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants being monitored in the province increased slightly over the weekend, rising from 341 to 343, but the number of presumptive cases jumped from 1,712 to 2,083. The vast majority of confirmed cases have been from the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom, and most of those in Montreal. To date only five variant cases have been confirmed in the Eastern Townships. The provincial institute of public health (INSPQ), which is tracking the progression of variants, has not given any indication of how many of the confirmed or presumptive cases are currently active.
In the Eastern Townships Sunday brought news of 13 new cases of COVID-19 after the addition of 18 on Saturday, and five on Friday. As of Sundays figures there were 155 active cases in the region, distributed as follows: 14 in the La Pommeraie sector, 50 in the Haute-Yamaska (primarily in Granby itself), nine in the Memphrémagog sector, four in the Coaticook sector, 21 in Sherbrooke, nine in the Val Saint-François, 47 in the Des Sources sector (primarily at the Manoir Jeffrey residence), one in the Haut-Saint-François, and no active cases in the Granit sector. Although the local public health department is now providing information specific to each municipality and to particular outbreaks across the Estrie administrative region, neither list is updated on the weekend.
The most recent data on local hospitalizations show five new admissions, but overall figures in the Townships are down from last week, with a combined total of 17 people in the dedicated COVID wards of the Fleurimont Hospital and the Sherbrooke Hôtel Dieu. Each Hospital also had one person in intensive care because of the virus as of Saturday
Another six people died for reasons linked to the virus over the weekend, bringing the total to 317.
So far 25,880 doses of vaccine have been administered in the Estrie region.