COVID restrictions in Quebec are being somewhat relaxed, partially to accommodate parents who are staying home with their children for March break, but the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew in red zones will remain for now, Premier François Legault announced Tuesday afternoon. The relaxed rules will last only to March 7.
"The pandemic is not over and there are still significant risks over the next few weeks," Legault said at a press conference. "There are still 771 patients in hospitals, some surgeries are still delayed, there are long waiting lists that need to be reduced and health workers on the front line are exhausted. There's also an increase in people who have the UK variant, which is more contagious and if we're not careful, cases could explode."
Legault announced that:
• The only current red zone that will become orange is in the Outaouais.
• Movie theatres can open in the red zone as of Feb. 26. But no snacks, such as popcorn, can be sold. Masks thus must be worn at all times.
• Indoor sports, including pools, will be allowed for families who live together or a maximum of two people.
• Eight people, up from four, can take part in outdoor activities together.
• Cottages can be rented and hotels stays are allowed in other regions, but only by a family living together, and the area curfew has to be respected.
"We will ask police officers to keep an eye on places where there is a lot of tourism, to make sure public health measures are respected," the Premier said.
• Restaurants will remain closed, so those travelling should bring their own food.
• There will be no checkpoints at the Ontario border.
• For parents who cannot take March break off, it is strongly discouraged to have grandparents babysit children. The Premier asked employers to be flexible in allowing parents time off during March break.
"The most important thing is no visits in homes," he added, pointing out that the only exception is one person visiting a person living alone. "Police officers are not giving warnings, they're giving tickets, a thousand per week. We're not doing this for fun.
"We have a few difficult weeks ahead. If we want a beautiful spring, we need to be careful."