Quebec warns of more fines for breaking Covid rules

By Matthew McCully
Quebec warns of more fines for breaking Covid rules

Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Wednesday that police presence will increase in the province and fines up to $6,000 will be given to individuals and businesses who do not follow COVID-19 safety measures.
The time for warnings is over, Legault said, adding that a minority of people cannot be allowed to put the majority of Quebecers at risk. “Now we are going directly to fines.”
The severity of the situation was hammered home with a provincewide alert sent to cell phones at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“All public and private gatherings remain prohibited in red zones and participants are subject to fines without notice,” the alert read.
Legault asked that any businesses that could close or employees who could work from home do so between Dec. 17 and Jan. 4 coinciding with school breaks. “We’re not ruling out further restrictions,” the premier said, depending on what happens in the coming days.
Hospitals in the province are overcrowded, Legault added.
The CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS released a statement saying that like in the spring, some elective surgeries will be put on hold to ensure beds remain available for COVID-19 patients, and some outpatient services will be impacted. Urgent appointments and post-operative follow-ups will be maintained, the health authority assured.
Emergency rooms in the region will remain in full service, but their capacity could be affected by the increased needs of the population due to the spread of COVID-19.
Individuals whose medical condition requires a visit to the emergency room should go there, but the population is asked to consider Info-Santé by calling 811 or consulting a pharmacist, family doctor or walk-in clinic before going to the ER.
Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should call 1-877-644-4545 for an appointment at a designated assessment clinic.
The premier said even though a vaccine has been approved by Health Canada and 55,000 doses are expected to arrive by Jan. 4, the province still has several difficult months ahead.
Three groups will be targeted with the first available vaccines; CHSLDs, healthcare workers and seniors residences.
Orders for 1.3 million vaccines, enough to inoculate 650,000 Quebecers, are expected by the end of March. Legault said even if only a third of those arrive and are administered, the situation in the province will improve.
Quebec is reporting 1,728 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of people infected to 156,468. The province also reported 37 new deaths, seven of which occurred in the last 24 hours. The death toll in the province now stands at 7,349. The number of hospitalizations increased by nine compared to the previous day, for a cumulative total of 844. Among those, the number of people in intensive care increased by 7, for a total of 121.
The Estrie region reported 111 new cases Wednesday, bringing the local total to 5,603. Three new deaths were reported. Two were from the Villa-Bonheur CHSLD in Granby and one occurred at Vigi Sherbont private CHSLD in Sherbrooke.
From the outbreaks under watch, five new cases were reported at the Argyll CHSLD in Sherbrooke (three residents, two employees). Nine employees from Villa-Bonheur tested positive for COVID-19, as did one employee at the CSSS de la MRC-Coaticook CHSLD. Three residents from Résidence Sérénité
in Granit and four residents from Résidence Haut-Bois in Sherbrooke also tested positive for the virus.
The Fleurimont borough of Sherbrooke, where a cluster of cases occurred, reported 24 new cases in the last day bringing that outbreak total to 239.
New outbreaks in the region include a Sherbrooke dental clinic and two French elementary schools, École Beaulieu and École du Sacré-Cœur, also in Sherbrooke, with under five cases each. A community organization in the Granit region also reported a new outbreak of under five cases.

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