Updated: Nov 26, 2020
As of today, Quebec has reported 969 new cases and 28 deaths linked to COVID-19. The amount of total cases is on the verge of reaching 90,000, whereas the death toll has just gone over the 6,000 mark.
As Quebec continues to see hundreds of new infections every day (frequently hitting over a thousand) and as strain builds and continues to put pressure on the province’s medical system, it is possible that Premier Legault will tighten restrictions even further.
“We have to keep doing it to protect our elderly population, to allow children to keep going to school and to help health-care workers. It could be you: if you fall ill in a month or two and health-care workers are too busy treating people with COVID, they won’t be able to take care of you,” he reported.
Montreal was the first area of Quebec to fall under maximum alert (otherwise known as a ‘red zone’), wholly suspending sports and recreational activities, prohibiting indoor and outdoor gatherings and forcing students and staff to wear face coverings at all times. Existing restrictions in the city were supplemented by new rules last Thursday. Quebecers in the province's red zones can now face tickets of up to $1,000 for violating public health regulations.
“I want to be clear,” noted the Premier. “Police are not going to start knocking on doors at random. This is not a witch hunt. Police will only do this if there are reasons to believe there is noncompliance with the law. Lives are at stake. We want to keep children in schools and protect our health network.”
As of this Tuesday, several more regions were moved into the red zone, including the entirety of the Quebec City area, Charlevoix and Montérégie (both tourist hotspots), and the Centre-du-Quebec region between the provincial capital and Montreal.
The Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region will also see increased restrictions as it moves into ‘alert,’ otherwise known as an ‘orange zone.’
“It’s too soon to say what will be in place in three months or six months, but we know that we will need some measures for many months because we don’t expect to have a vaccine by December for everybody,” the Premier stated.
The Montreal Gazette has since reported that the Premier nevertheless remains optimistic about the extent of a ‘second wave’ in the province.
“We need to remain prudent before celebrating, but the spread of the virus seems to be stabilizing,” Legault said.
Quebec’s National Director of Public Health, Horacio Arruda, added that although a second wave is currently washing over the province, there is no guarantee a third might surface in the future.
“It’s a possibility and it will depend on how fast we can get a vaccine,” he noted. “It will depend on how we respect the ‘no gathering inside’ rules. No parties, no big crowdings, because that’s a factor.”
Although the clampdown has been perceived as controversial by some, it must be noted that Quebecers are, by and large, extremely supportive of the CAQ's coronavirus response. A recent poll conducted in late August found that almost six-in-ten Quebecers (57%) back the right-of-centre party, allowing the CAQ to achieve a 40-point lead over the second largest party, the Quebec Liberals. Considering that 2018 was the first time that a right-wing party had won in Quebec since 1970, breaking the former duopoly between the QLP and the Parti Quebecois, the CAQ need only continue their existing strategy—it seems to be working.