MONTREAL -- Quebec Premier Francois Legault announced that his government is ordering the closure of all restaurant dining rooms and shopping malls as of midnight, while also announcing 38 more cases of COVID-19 in the province.

Grocery stores, pharmacies and SAQ outlets will remain open, but hair salons and spas are also asked to close. Take out and drive-thrus can remain open.

Legault said he did not want to close the SAQs down over fear of causing a panic.

"We believe there would be more inconveniences to closing the SAQs down," said Legault.

In his daily update Sunday, Legault announced that the number of COVID-19 cases has increased to 219 up from 181 on Saturday. 

He added that there was a misreporting yesterday and that the number of deaths is four and not five as he said yesterday. All four were in the same seniors' residence home.

He implored Quebecers to tell the truth when speaking to health officials, and that lying wastes healthcare professionals' time.

While tests are still reserved for those who have been travelling or showing symptoms, Legault said that could soon change.

"In the next phase we may test, probably test other people," he said. "Right now, we think the best strategy is to concentrate on these people, plus people working in hospitals."


All schools, CEGEPs, universities and daycares will remain closed until May 1. Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge said teachers will send homework to parents and the government will set up online educational resources for children. He added that they will find a way to make sure closures don't affect graduations.

The ministry will begin providing general educational materials to parents as of March 30, with grade and level-specific activities being sent to parents who want them as of April 6. 

In a statement, the English Montreal School Board said they look forward to taking part in online meetings with the Education Ministry and other school boards to discuss details of how those online resources will be made available. 

Legault said that police can ban public gatherings and force people into isolation who have tested positive for COVID-19 when asked, but said the actions are rare.

“I really don’t wish that we get there except in exceptional cases,” said Legault. "Right now we count on the good faith of the population."

The premier added that the measures have had a good effect, and will continue to improve the situation.