QUEBEC CITY, Dec. 16, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Quebec Premier François Legault, accompanied by the Minister of Health and Social Services, Christian Dubé, announced today that due to the worrying deterioration of the epidemiological situation, several measures will be implemented as of December 20 to limit the spread of the virus during the holiday season. The administration of the booster dose will also be brought forward for all Quebecers aged 60 and over.
The most recent projections from the Institut national d’excellence en santé et services sociaux (INESSS) suggest a marked increase in hospitalizations in the coming weeks. Measures are needed to curb transmission, which has been accelerated by the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Acceleration of vaccination
In the current context, experts recommend that the interval between the last dose and the booster dose be reduced to three months.
The booster dose may also be offered more quickly to people between the ages of 60 and 69:
- Dec. 20: 65 years and older
- December 27: 60-64 years old
In order to accelerate the delivery of the booster dose to the various clienteles, several efforts are being made to increase vaccine capacity. The goal is to be able to administer up to 600,000 doses per week by next January.
At this time, we want to prioritize our health care workers and our most vulnerable people. All other age groups will be vaccinated as soon as possible thereafter.
Tightening of measures
An effort is being asked of the entire population to limit contact over the next few weeks. Several measures will be in effect as of December 20.
- Private gatherings indoors will be permitted but must be limited to what is currently authorized, i.e. a maximum of 10 people.
- It is still strongly recommended that individuals be properly vaccinated to participate in these gatherings.
- The start of the school year (high school, college, university and vocational training) has been postponed to January 10 in all regions of Quebec. For elementary school students, for the time being, the date remains the same as the one scheduled by the school service centers and school boards.
- Masks must be worn at all times in all areas.
Businesses and shopping centers
- The capacity of the premises is reduced to 50%.
Places of worship and essential public activities (assemblies, meetings)
- Vaccine passport required and capacity reduced by 50% (maximum 250 people, who must remain seated).
- For weddings and funerals, may hold a ceremony without a passport with a maximum of 25 people
Public events (cinemas, events, shows)
- 50% capacity limit for theaters and dinner shows.
- People must remain seated and the intervention mask is mandatory (can be removed momentarily for drinking and eating).
Restaurants and bars
- Limit to 50% of capacity, spacing tables as much as possible, and maintain a maximum of 10 people per table. No dancing or karaoke type activities. People must remain seated.
Sports and Recreation
- Tournaments or sports competitions are suspended.
- All indoor activities must be limited to a maximum of 25 people.
- Distance of 2 m between people in gyms and limit to 50% of the capacity of the premises.
- Vaccination passport required in spas (except for personal care) and limit to 50% of the capacity of the premises.
“On the one hand, we must protect the mental health of Quebecers and give them hope when things are going well. And on the other hand, we must protect Quebecers and our health care system when things are not going well. Once again, I need your help. We each have a great responsibility, we each have a role to play. If we each make an effort, we will get through this.”
François Legault, Premier of Quebec
“The rapid increase in the number of cases and the transmission of the Omicron variant are determining factors in our decision making. The projections for the coming weeks are worrisome and call for great caution in order to limit the impact on hospitalizations. However, the high vaccination coverage in Quebec allows us to authorize gatherings with our loved ones, but with a limited number of guests and in compliance with sanitary measures. We will continue to monitor the situation closely, as it is evolving very quickly.
Christian Dubé, Minister of Health and Social Services
- Two other measures were announced on December 14 to deal with the increase in cases and the new variant as the holiday season approaches, namely to encourage teleworking from now on and to extend the wearing of masks in common areas to all private seniors’ residences.
- Currently available data suggests that the Omicron variant is at least twice as transmissible as Delta. Two doses of mRNA vaccine would reduce hospitalization rates by 70%.
- The administration of a booster dose will therefore increase the vaccine’s effectiveness in dealing with the new variant.
- Rapid screening tests will be distributed gradually, starting December 20, to the entire population in nearly 2,000 pharmacies across Quebec. A kit that includes five rapid tests as well as the material and instructions to perform them is also given to each student in preschool and elementary schools. Rapid tests are also given to parents of children over the age of one year by their daycare center.
To learn more about the measures in place: Quebec.ca/coronavirus