“We came out of the tunnel” | Quebec announces “a few small relaxations”

Faced with the drop in hospitalizations that he hopes to see accelerate, the Legault government authorizes “a few small relaxations”. The dining rooms of the restaurants will be able to reopen under certain conditions from January 31, and Quebecers will be able to gather with four people or two bubbles. Civilian and extracurricular sports reserved for young people will also resume on Monday, while performance halls and cinemas will restart on February 7.

Posted at 1:55 p.m.
Updated at 3:20 p.m.

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

Henri Ouellette-Vezina
The Press

“I told you last week that we saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I think we can say today that we are out of the tunnel, ”explained the Prime Minister on Tuesday, admitting that hospitalizations “are not falling quickly” to his liking.

Mr. Legault said he held a meeting with Public Health on Monday evening. “What the experts are telling us is that there should be a small drop in hospitalizations in the next few weeks, but the confidence interval is very wide. Is it going to be small, is it going to stabilize, is there going to be a big drop? There is a lot of uncertainty,” he said.

The Minister of Health, Christian Dubé, recalled that the National Institute of Excellence in Health and Social Services (INESS) plans to reach 2,500 hospitalizations within two weeks. “It’s already very encouraging,” he said. According to him, several elements, including vaccination and the availability of antivirals, make it possible to announce these relaxations. “We have a certain stability in terms of human resources”, he also judged, confirming that 12,000 employees are still absent in the network.

As of Monday, Quebecers will be able to gather in a residence, with a maximum of four people or two bubbles. The same principle will apply in the dining rooms of restaurants or even the cafeterias of ski chalets: these can reopen at 50% of their capacity, with a maximum of two bubbles per table. The Biodôme, the aquariums, the Botanical Garden and the Planetarium will also be able to reopen this Monday, with 50% capacity. No change for teleworking, however.

We announce what we are capable of announcing. At some point, you have to be responsible and humble. As we say in Quebec, take it easy.

François Legault, Premier of Quebec

Air for young people

Because young people “have made a lot of sacrifices”, extracurricular and civilian sports reserved for 18 and under will be able to resume on Monday, with a maximum of 25 people and locker rooms at 50% capacity. If competitions will not be tolerated, the lifting also concerns training for college and university sports, said the acting national director of public health, Dr.r Luc Boileau.

In CHSLDs, it will be possible to have up to a maximum of two caregivers, one at a time. For private residences for seniors (RPA), this figure can go up to four caregivers, two at a time. François Legault also called to order the owners of residences where the number of people who eat together is more limited than the instructions in force. Four people are allowed to eat together in these dining rooms.

On February 7, the “second phase” of deconfinement will begin with the reopening of performance halls, cinemas and amphitheatres, with 50% of their capacity up to a maximum of 500 people inside, and 1000 at the outside. On that day, the places of worship will be able to accommodate 250 people. A “humanitarian” exception will be made for funeral homes, where the maximum will be 50 people, but without the obligation of a vaccination passport.

“I know there are activities that are not mentioned. We are aware. I am thinking of adult sports, gyms, spas, but for the moment, Public Health tells us that it will come in a third stage, ”summed up Mr. Legault.

The Dr Boileau, he said that Quebec can “take advantage of this opportunity” to begin a way out of the crisis. “There will be mechanisms to capture more fully the cases at home,” he said, recalling that a self-reporting platform for COVID-19 cases went online on Tuesday.

Mr. Boileau also revealed that Public Health will soon hold press briefings separate from the government, on an occasional basis. “The idea of ​​having separate press briefings, to properly explain the things and the points of view that emerge from the national leadership, it is retained, he promised. It will happen in the next few days. »

François Legault finally insisted on the “refoundation” of the health network, a train “magane” for too many years. “We want to increase hospital capacity. This overhaul will have to be done around the staff, ”he said, promising a plan next February for this purpose. “What is important is to value the judgment, the initiative, the autonomy of each person who works in the network”, insisted the Prime Minister, also saying that he wanted to bet on “accelerated training” for the nurses, whose graduation time varies between three and five years. “We won’t be able to increase capacity overnight. In the meantime, we have no choice but to be responsible. »

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