Quebec to lockdown Christmas Day

By Matthew McCully
Quebec to lockdown Christmas Day

Quebecers have the next nine days to shop and hope they don’t drop before the province implements lockdown measures, closing all non-essential stores and businesses from Dec. 25 until Jan. 11.
Leading up to the lockdown, all business where employees can work from home are obligated to do so as of Dec. 17, Premier Francois Legault explained at a press conference Tuesday.
Elementary schools will spend an extra week at home doing distance education and returning to in-person classes at the same time as high school students on Jan. 11.
Daycares will remain open, Legault said, but any parents who can keep their children home should do so, leaving daycare services available primarily to essential workers.
To level the playing field for small businesses, big box stores like Walmart and Costco will not be permitted to sell non-essential items during the lockdown period, Legault explained.
Any zones that were yellow will move to orange during the 18-day period, and zones that were orange will move to red.
Legault framed the new measures as more of a lockout than a lockdown, loosening restrictions on outdoor activities.
Groups of up to eight players and a coach/monitor can gather for outdoor sports and ski schools. Parks will be open for cross-country skiers, snowshoers and outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy, but gatherings outside in peoples’ yards are not permitted. Public Health Director Horacio Arruda explained the idea is for people to get outside and move, not stand around a fire in the backyard and socialize.
People who live alone are permitted to enter the bubble of another family, Legault said.
During the press conference Legault said there are currently 7,411 health care employees off work, and 181 school classes were closed Tuesday because of COVID-19, bringing the total number of classes closed across the province to 1,503, roughly 4.5 per cent of the students in Quebec.
Even if numbers are high, Legault said for the second wave, compared to other places, Quebec is doing better based on a number of indicators.
Quebec reported 1,741 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, bringing the total number of people infected to 167,276, of which 142,894 people have now recovered. The data also reports 39 new deaths. The total in the province is now 7,571. The number of hospitalizations increased by 69 compared to the previous day, for a cumulative total of 959. Among those, the number of people in intensive care increased by 3, for a total of 125.
Tuesday 298 doses of vaccine were administered.
the Estrie region 87 new cases of COVID-19 were reported, bringing the local total to Estrie 6,205. There were five new deaths in the last day, bringing the total to 105 in Estrie.
A new outbreak of less than five residents and employees was declared at SNT Bowen (site non traditionnel), a temporary residence set up for seniors awaiting a space in a CHSLD.

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