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Montreal, Laval become orange zones

Premier François Legault confirmed that Montreal and Laval followed eight other Quebec regions and orange COVID-19 zones as of Monday June 7.

This means students in Secondary III, IV and V can attend school full time and restaurants can open for indoor dining, albeit with restrictions such as required reservations.

On the day of the announcement, Quebec reported an exceptionally low 208 new COVID cases for the entire province. Subsequent figures have been below 200 for Quebec, and some have been under 100 for Montreal.

Legault said he was proud of Quebecers’ resilience and pride.

“The numbers are very encouraging,” he said. “This allows us to go to the next steps of our reopening plan... As of June 7, there will no longer be any red zones in Quebec.”

The Premier did warn that it is difficult to predict what will happen after the province further reopens, pointing out Montreal is a dense city.

“We can expect an increase in cases, but Public Health is still comfortable with our plan.”

Legault also advised prudence in all zones.

The Premier especially encouraged those aged 18-40 who are hesitant to get their first dose to make their appointments as soon as possible, as many second dose appointments are expected.

“We must get collective immunity. We need young people to be vaccinated to reach our goal.”

Asked by reporters his thoughts about the Canada-U.S. land border opening, Legault said there is no consensus amongst premiers.

“We wish for people to receive their two doses before opening up — I told this to Mr. Trudeau. So, for me, not before the end of the summer.”

Quebec announces deconfinement plan for supervised sports

Quebec Sports and Leisure Minister Isabelle Charest announced Thursday that outdoor team sports can resume June 25 all across Quebec, no matter the colour coding for zones.

Montreal and Laval are still in the red zone, but are expected to transition to orange by June 7. Most of Quebec is expected to be yellow by June 14 and green by the end of June.

Charest also announced that supervised team sports can begin June 11 in zones designated yellow, with a maximum of 25 people.

When areas are designated green, those sports activities can be allowed with a maximum of 50 people, the minister added.

At that time, “it will be possible to organize competitions and tournaments,” Charest told the media. “It will also be allowed to accommodate spectators according to a strict protocol. The activities can take place in groups of 50 people maximum, and indoors in groups of 25 people maximum with brief contact.”

As well, gyms in Montreal will be opened June 7, and masks will have to be worn. A Quebec City gym where COVID rules were not followed led to hundreds of infections in the area earlier this year.

For areas still designated red and orange, “activities will remain permitted without contact, with distancing,” said the minister, referring to such activities as tennis and golf.

National Assembly unanimously condemns anti-Semitism
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The Quebec National Assembly unanimously passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitic incidents in the province.

The resolution says that the National Assembly “firmly condemn the threats, violence and aggression towards Quebecers of Jewish faith, which have increased in the last weeks; that it reaffirm that in a free and democratic society, all can demonstrate or express an opinion, with respect, safety and dignity; that it reiterate the need to maintain a healthy, democratic debate regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and finally, that it recall that violence is intolerable towards anyone at any time.”

In recent days, members of the Jewish community were attacked and threatened physically and on social media in downtown Montreal, Côte St. Luc, Outremont, Hampstead and Westmount during the Israel-Hamas conflict, including by pro-Palestinian protesters. Incidents of vandalism against synagogues had taken place in the past year as well.

The resolution was tabled by D’Arcy McGee MNA David Birnbaum, and co-sponsored by the MNAs for Gaspé, Laurier-Dorion, Chomedey, Marie-Victorin and Rimouski.

“The situation experienced by my fellow citizens is unacceptable,” Birnbaum said. “In 2021, we can no longer tolerate behaviour of this kind. Let’s hope that the signal will be heard by the whole population. Hatred and violence towards Jewish Quebecers must cease immediately.”

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs welcomed the motion.

“For weeks, Quebec Jews have been at the receiving end of an alarming number of anti-Semitic incidents including assaults, vandalism and death threats,” said Eta Yudin, CIJA Quebec’s vice-president. “This situation is intolerable and without precedent, and does not reflect Quebec’s values.”

Yudin added that elected officials “have sent a strong message to all Quebecers that anti-Semitism has no place in Quebec society.

“While there is still much work to be done, today’s motion is a step in the right direction and demonstrates that our elected officials understand the gravity of the threat and will not allow it to fester.”