QUEBEC CITY -- In the wake of two nights of protests in Montreal, sometimes veering into riots, Quebec Premier Francois Legault asked young people to remember that the number of young COVID-19 patients in hospital has recently doubled.

"I have a message for young people who have had enough of the pandemic: I understand what you're going through," said the premier in a Tuesday press conference.

But he renewed calls for people under 60 to limit their social interactions, and asked them to be patient.

"I don't want to say anything other than we are very grateful for what younger people have done for the past year," he said. "Right now, it is your health that is at risk."

Legault was joined for Tuesday's update by Health Minister Christian Dube and Health Director Horacio Arruda.

They said the goal of having all Quebec adults vaccinated by June 24 is still in place, but restrictions will likely remain for the foreseeable future, especially if the virus continues to spread among young people.

Despite the high vaccine coverage so far among older people, "that doesn't mean we're going to open everything," said Legault.

"The timeline has been pushed back" by the new, troubling infection rate among the young, he said.

"We thought that we could go back to something more normal once older people were vaccinated," he said.

"Well, now that the number of young people who end up in hospital [is going up], we're going to have to wait for everyone who wants to be vaccinated to be vaccinated." 


Lockdown measures in Quebec City, Chaudière-Appalaches, and Outaouais will be extended for an additional week, Legault also announced.

"If there’s anybody in Quebec City who doesn't think the virus isn’t serious, we need to look at the facts and be very, very, prudent," said Legault.

Schools and non-essential businesses in those areas will remain closed until April 25, and the 8 p.m. curfew will remain in place.


Legault provided some clarification on the rules around mask-wearing outdoors, which were introduced last week and have caused confusion since then.

"Masks outside are mandatory," said the premier. "There are two exceptions to this: If you are alone, or with people with whom you live, you don't have to have the mask." 

"If you have a picnic of a maximum of eight people, once you are seated, two metres away, you don't need to keep the mask on," he said. 

Quebecers have voiced their bewilderment over when exactly masks are required outdoors.

"I understand the measures are changing a lot, but the situation is changing a lot as well," Legault said.

Violation of mask rules can bring a fine of up to $1,550.