MONTREAL -- Premier Francois Legault is asking police officers to hand out more fines to people who defy COVID-19 rules in Quebec. 

He made the announcement at a news conference on Wednesday, when the province's new COVID-19 cases pushed the weekly average higher as 1,728 more people tested positive for the disease in 24 hours. 

That number is 99 more than the 1,629 seven-day average, and the total number of positive cases in Quebec since the start of the pandemic is now 156,468.

"I have asked police officers and the health and safety commission to give more fines and more tickets," Legault said. "We cannot allow a minority of people to put the majority at risk." 

Those fines can go up to $6,000, he said. 

"We still have difficult weeks ahead of us." 

An alert will go out Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. reminding Quebecers of public health guidelines surrounding COVID-19, Legault added. 

The province is also mulling over the possibility of closing stores for a few weeks in December and January if hospitalizations continue to rise in Quebec. 

"But I'd like to repeat it; people who go into stores and who respect the guidelines... Well then there's no risk of transmitting the virus," Legault said. 

Asked whether the decisions he's had to make lately have been the hardest part of his career, Legault said no.

"The difficult moment was in March when we didn't know if there was going to be an apocaylpse," he said. 

Legault also mentioned that the province is expecting to receive 55,000 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 4.

"We can see the light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

The Quebec Institute of Public Health reports that there are 15,426 active cases in the province as of Wednesday, and that 1,119 people have recovered from the disease.

The total number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 is now 133,692, or 85 per cent of the total positive cases.

In addition, the province reported 37 more deaths due to the disease. Of these, seven deaths were reported in the past 24 hours, 24 occurred between Dec. 2 and Dec. 7, five occurred before Dec. 2, and one person died at an unknown date.

The total number of deaths due to COVID-19 in the province is now 7,349 after Quebec officials removed one death from the total since an investigation found that it was not attributable to COVID-19.

The number of hospitalizations in Quebec increased by nine Wednesday and there are now 844 people receiving treatment in the province's hospitals. Of these, 121 people are in the intensive care ward, an increase of seven. 

Quebec health-care professionals analyzed 30,024 samples Dec. 7 (Quebec releases its testing data from two days prior to its daily updates).


Monteregie continues to report high numbers of fatalities due to the disease and added 11 new (919 total) on Wednesday.

Five deaths were reported in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean (159 total), Quebec City (491 total), and Montreal (3,682 total); and three deaths were reported in Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Quebec (281 total).

One death was reported in Outaouais (88 total), Chaudiere-Appalaches (148 total), Laval (732 total), and the Laurentians (342 total).

Of the new coronavirus cases reported Montreal was hardest hit with 478 new (55,260 total).

Monteregie (286 new, 22,019 total), Quebec City (230 new, 13,362 total), Laval (140 new, 12,643 total), and the Eastern Townships (111 new, 5,603 total) were all hard hit in the past 24 hours.