MONTREAL -- Movie theatres and indoor sports facilities will reopen in Quebec's red zones as March break approaches.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced the slight loosening of public health measures on Tuesday.

He acknowledged that the COVID-19 situation in the province has improved, with a drop in daily new cases, hospitalizations and daily deaths, but said that with one exception, Quebec's regions that were designated as red zones would remain so.

The only exception is the Outaouais region, which will be changed from red to orange as of Feb. 22.

With March break approaching, Legault said he understood parents need activities for their children.

Thus the red zones' movie theatres would be permitted to reopen on Feb. 26, provided physical distancing and mask-wearing is enforced. Indoor sports facilities such as pools would also be permitted to reopen, with a limit of two people or a family participating at a time.  

Theatres were already permitted to re-open in Quebec's orange zones. 

With many Quebec families traditionally opting to rent a cottage during March break, Legault said that would be permitted but "not ideal."

"There are two main conditions," he said "You must respect family bubbles and respect curfews, which will remain in place at 8 p.m. in the red zones.”

Outdoor activities, which were limited to groups of four people in red zones, will be expanded to allow groups of eight. 

Whether public health measures continue to be loosed will depend on how well Quebecers respect the ongoing steps being taken, such as the curfew. Public health chief Horacio Arruda said the situation will be evaluated after the break is over.

“We concentrated on activities where there's low risk for that week," he said. "After that, it will be something else. We're conscious of the negative effects of not letting young people do sports. But right now we're focused on spring break.”

The premier appealed to the province's employers, asking them to be flexible and to accomodate parents with children who are off from school. But he urged Quebecers who must continue to work not to use grandparents or other elderly people as babysitters.

“I know there are a lot of parents who can't take the week off. It is not a good idea for children to be babysat by their grandparents. That is the last thing we want to see.”

The premier sounded a note of hope, pointing to a forecasted influx of vaccines set to begin this week.

“We have many elements where it can move. You have the variants, you have what's happening in our hospitals in each region and of course what's happening with vaccines," he said. "If we succeed in the next few weeks to have all vulnerable people vaccinated, it would be a whole new ballgame and then we can start thinking of having people in other people's houses.”