COVID-19

New restrictions: reduced capacity in stores and longer school holidays planned

The Legault government plans to lower the limit of people allowed in businesses and extend school holidays for students in a bid to curb the spread of the omicron variant.

• Also read: COVID-19: 2,736 new infections in Quebec

• To read also: Catastrophe just before the holidays for merchants

• To read also: Variant Omicron: another Christmas under close surveillance around the world

These scenarios are currently on the table, as discussions continue within the government’s crisis staff. François Legault must take stock of the situation at 6:00 p.m., when public health authorities forecast a marked increase in hospitalizations in the coming weeks.

According to our information, the reduction of the capacity of certain businesses, including bars and restaurants, has been mentioned.

On the one hand, public health authorities want citizens to reduce their contacts by imposing stricter sanitary measures, but on the other hand, they do not want to dissuade people from getting vaccinated again for a 3rd dose. Several Quebecers have agreed to be vaccinated to enjoy certain pleasures reserved for people who have their vaccination passports.

  • Listen to the interview with Roxane Borgès Da Silva, professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Montreal

Sources have told our Parliamentary Office that gatherings in homes limited to ten people during the Christmas season are also among the scenarios studied. Remember that Quebec announced last week that the guest limit could be increased to 20 as of December 23. Note that the conversations with Public Health are not over.

Elementary school kids and high school teens may also need to stay home longer than expected after the holidays. The actors of the school network were summoned by the government for a summit meeting at the end of the afternoon.

What is forcing the government to review its plans is, in particular, the increase in hospitalizations on the horizon.

On Thursday, in an interim report published online, the National Institute for Excellence in Health and Social Services (INESSS) underlines that the number of new cases is increasing dramatically (+ 42%) compared to the previous week (11,683 vs. 8,225).

Thus, according to “a scenario based on parameters related to the Omicron variant of a scientific publication integrating real-life data from South Africa”, the Institute predicts “a marked increase in the number of daily hospitalizations in the coming weeks and, consequently , the occupancy rate for intensive and regular care beds ”.

Remember that the government has always relied on the number of planned hospitalizations to determine if new health restrictions should be implemented.

Prime Minister François Legault described the situation as “critical” on Thursday morning and announced that he would hold a press conference at 6 in the afternoon to take stock. He will then be accompanied by the National Director of Public Health, Dr. Horacio Arruda and the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé.

“The situation is critical. I will give a press conference this afternoon at 6 pm to announce important measures for the increase in COVID cases and the new Omicron variant,” the Prime Minister said in a message on his Twitter account.

On Wednesday, he said he was willing to back down after announcing on December 7 that 20 vaccinated people would be allowed to gather from December 23, and this, for the duration of the holidays, and more.

Since then, authorities have announced marked increases in the number of COVID-19 infections. On Thursday 2,736 cases and 5 deaths were reported, and the previous day 2,386 infections and four deaths.

  • Hear from journalist Alexandre Dubé with Benoit Dutrizac on QUB Radio:

On Thursday, the National Institute of Public Health (INSPQ) reported detecting two more cases of the highly communicable variant Omicron and 105 presumptive cases. Health Minister Christian Dubé had indicated that all screening tests were carried out in the province on Monday to detect the presence of the variant.

–With assistance from Daphnée Dion-Viens

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