- On Wednesday, Quebec reported 2,348 people in hospital (a decrease of 32 from the previous day), including 171 in intensive care (a decrease of seven from the previous day).
- The province reported 3,361 new cases of COVID-19 and 31 deaths.
- Since the start of the pandemic, there have been 889,057* confirmed cases and 13,582 people have died.
- The province also reported Wednesday a total of 18,061,383 doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered, including 35,044 in the last 24 hours.
- 91 per cent of the eligible population in the province (aged five and up) have received one dose of the vaccine; 85 per cent have received two doses, and 48 per cent have received three doses.
*The new cases are those reported to the Quebec government only. They are believed to be an underrepresentation of the virus’s spread, given the limited availability of PCR tests and use of home testing kits.
Quebec’s interim director of public health, Dr. Luc Boileau, said Wednesday he estimates at least two million and perhaps as many as 2.5 million Quebecers have been infected by the Omicron variant of COVID-19 since the beginning of the fifth wave.
Speaking at a news conference, Boileau said if you include all previous waves, nearly half of all Quebecers have likely been infected with some form of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
Boileau said he feels the time is right to loosen public-health restrictions, as announced yesterday by Premier François Legault, calling the move a “calculated risk.”
However, he said, the vaccine passport and mask requirements will remain in place until at least March 14.
Gradual loosening of restrictions over next month
While home gatherings will be allowed without restrictions, public health officials will recommend that those gatherings be limited to 10 people or members from no more than three different households. The measure come into effect on Saturday.
Restaurants will also be able to accommodate a maximum of 10 people per table. Bars will be allowed to reopen on Feb. 28 with capacity limits and some restrictions. Dancing will still be prohibited until March 14.
As of Feb. 21, all retail businesses will be allowed to reopen at full capacity. Places of worship will remain at 50 per cent capacity, but with a maximum of 500 people.
As of Monday, cinemas, theatres, concert halls and sports venues were allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity or a maximum of 500 people (1,000 for outdoor events) and proof of vaccination is required for entry.
Mixed reaction from bars, health-care workers
News of Quebec’s gradual reopening plan was met with mixed reaction from bar owners, as well as some health-care workers.
In less than three weeks, bars, which have been closed since Dec. 20, will be allowed to reopen at 50 per cent capacity, with last call for alcohol at midnight and a closing time of 1 a.m. Dancing and karaoke will remain banned until March 14.
Sergio Da Silva, co-owner of downtown Montreal bar and live music venue Turbo Haüs, worries the restrictions will preclude his bar from drawing enough customers in time to stay afloat.
“Nobody wants to go to an empty bar. And a half cap bar looks like a boring, uninviting place.”
WATCH | Almost all restrictions in Quebec lifted by march:
Almost all restrictions in Quebec to be lifted by March 14, Legault says
The CEO of Quebec’s bar owner association says for some businesses, it will take three years to recover from the financial damage wrought by COVID, and bars need help.
Montreal infectious disease specialist Dr. Matthew Oughton is still advising caution despite the relaxed measures. He says while he understands the importance of having dates for businesses to reopen, the province must prevent putting more strain on the hospital system and its exhausted health-care workers.
“Although dates are convenient for people, viruses don’t care about dates, and what you need to be doing is basing these kinds of decisions less on fixed dates, and more on sensible targets,” he said.
Liberal MP criticizes federal handling of pandemic
Liberal Quebec MP Joël Lightbound says he’s uncomfortable with the federal government’s handling of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, saying its pandemic response has become “politicized” and “divisive.”
Pointing to more than a dozen developed countries that have started to do away with restrictions already, Lightbound said Tuesday it’s reasonable to rethink Canada’s COVID-19 approach as it becomes increasingly clear that the world will be dealing with this virus for years to come.
Lightbound said people who question existing policies should not be “demonized” by their prime minister.
Top COVID-19 stories
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
- New or worsening cough.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Sudden loss of smell without a stuffy nose.
- Gastrointestinal issues (such as nausea, diarrhea, vomiting).
- Sore throat
- Generalized muscle pain.
- Loss of appetite.
If you think you may have COVID-19, the government asks that you call 1‑877‑644‑4545 to schedule an appointment at a screening clinic.
To reserve an appointment for a COVID-19 vaccine, you can go on the online portal quebec.ca/covidvaccine. You can also call 1-877-644-4545.
You can find information on COVID-19 in the province here and information on the situation in Montreal here.