Legault predicts orange zones, restaurant openings, in 'next few weeks'
MONTREAL -- It's not quite as good news in some regions as others, but Quebec City will see a relaxation of its lockdown measures next Monday, including a return to 9:30 curfew and a return to part-time school for high-school students.
The same won't be true in the Outaouais, Beauce and some other hard-hit regions, which have been subject to the strictest restrictions and won't see them all lifted yet.
But overall, Premier François Legault said in a press conference Tuesday, COVID-19 statistics are looking so good across the province that he foresees a broader easing within about a month, including allowing limited access to restaurants again.
In the meantime, he asked the public for a favour, to help get to that point: to talk to their friends and family who are hesitant about vaccines.
It's not just for their sake, but for everyone's -- 75 per cent of the population must be vaccinated to reach herd immunity and really begin to reopen society, he explained.
"If some of your friends or family members are hesitating, please try to convince them otherwise," Legault said.
"Ask them to go see their doctor, to go see their pharmacist, so that we can answer their questions, because the vaccines are essential, if we want to have a nice summer."
He also asked for an easier favour in the next few weeks: order some takeout. Restaurants need the help until the province can reopen them, even if that's within the month.
"I'd like to take this opportunity to ask Quebecers who are able to do so... to order takeout from restaurants who offer it," he said.
"We hope that in the next few weeks [we'll bring] many zones to orange so that we can open restaurants in May," he said.
"We had said that April would be dangerous, and I think that we're doing quite well. Very well."
That's especially true, he said, "when we look at when we compare ourselves with, for example, Ontario or Alberta."
SOME RESTRICTIONS EASED, SOME TIGHTENED
A complicated new set of restrictions will apply to various regions, and municipalities within them, starting this week and next week. There are no changes announced for Montreal.
The Quebec City region will return to a regular red zone, instead of its extra emergency measures, on Monday. This means high-school students will return to class on a rotating schedule, non-essential businesses may open, and the curfew will go to 9:30.
The same is true for most of Chaudiere-Appalaches, with the exception of three regional municipalities: Les Etchemins, Beauce-Sartigan, and Robert-Cliche.
In Outaouais, nothing will change except for two regional municipalities that will also go back to a regular red zone on Monday, with high schools allowed to reopen and curfew at 9:30. Those exceptions are Vallée de la Gatineau and Papineau.
In the Eastern Townships, one municipality is going the opposite direction, from red into the emergency measures lockdown, starting at midnight Wednesday. That is Granit regional municipality.
However, unlike the emergency lockdown put in place in the last several weeks in places like Quebec City, primary schools will remain open in Granit.
There's no change planned for Bas-Saint-Laurent, the other region that's been under emergency lockdown.
On Monday, Abitibi-Temiscamingue is becoming a yellow zone instead of orange
HOPE FOR HOCKEY FANS
Legault also said another option coming up is allowing NHL games with in-person fans.
“Imagine last night, if… we had a sellout crowd at the Bell Centre for Cole Caufield's goal, it would have been unbelievable,” Legault said.
“It's a very good question. I've asked this question several times and I'm waiting for the answer.”
He declined to estimate a particular date, but said it’s on the table.
“Perhaps it wouldn't be a full house in the beginning -- there would be fewer people,” he said.