What ­happened over the weekend

By Gordon Lambie, with files from the Canadian Press

With announcements coming daily from the Federal and Provincial Governments about new measures to control the spread of COVID-19, the news of what is and is not open, and what people can or cannot do changes rapidly. That in mind, here is an update on what new recommendations and regulations have been put in place over the weekend.
On Friday Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new agreement with the United States that will see irregular migrants, those people who cross between official border crossings, turned away at the border. This stood in contrast to the announcement just the day before that refugee claimants would be immediately held in quarantine for 14 days. The Prime Minister also announced that the government is working with manufacturers to retool and produce equipment needed to treat people for COVID-19. Friday also marked the day that the Canada/US border was closed to all nonessential travel for a potentially renewable period of 30 days.
Quebec Premier François Legault, meanwhile, hinted at an announcement we would officially make on Sunday, stating that the school, university, and daycare closures will remain in effect until at least the beginning of May. This announcement, when it came, also included the news that ministry exams will be cancelled even if classes resume.
In a press-release issued on Friday the Sûreté du Québec, Quebec’s provincial police, announced a mandate to assist the Ministry of Health and Social ­Services in the enforcement of its measures, and said that officers are currently engaged in efforts to ensure people are respecting the new regulations.
Friday also marked the day that the number of COVID-19 cases across the country surpassed 1,000.
On Saturday Quebec took the step of forbidding most indoor and outdoor gatherings, and extended the province’s public health state of emergency until March 29. Outdoor gatherings had previously still been allowed, even if gatherings of all kinds were being discouraged. The only exceptions for indoor gatherings are at workplaces not closed by government order, at stores and government offices to receive services, in public transit and for people who reside under the same roof or are providing a service or support in a home. Outdoor gatherings are still permitted if the people gathered stay at least two metres apart or if they are members of the same household.
On Sunday Quebec ordered the closure of all restaurant dining rooms and shopping malls until at least May to prevent people from gathering and potentially spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Under the new regulation grocery stores, pharmacies and liquor stores can stay open, even if they’re in shopping centres, as can stores that open to the outdoors.
The number of confirmed cases in the province rose by 38 on Sunday, to 219 from 181. The total number of confirmed cases for Canada is 1,426 (35 presumptive, 1,391 confirmed including 18 deaths, 15 resolved).

Published in the Monday, March 23 edition of The Record.

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