SHERBROOKE, QUE. -- The Estrie region (the Eastern Townships) tumbled into red zone status at midnight on Thursday morning, the highest level of alert

The decision was announced last Monday by Health Minister Chistian Dube.

The change in status means that dining rooms in restaurants, as well as entertainments centres, must close.

A steep rise in new cases has recently been observed in Estrie.

When the Health minister announced his decision, 54 of the 1,169 new cases registered in Quebec in the last 24 hours had come from Estrie. In the week before that, there were between 31 and 90 new cases per day, for a total of 355.

Last weekend, Sherbrooke police (SPS) intervened twice in Sherbrooke to put an end to illegal gatherings.

First, early on Saturday night, about 25 people had gathered in a private residence. When police officers arrived, around 10 people fled but 16 individuals between the ages of 17 and 25 were identified. These people came from Sherbrooke, Longueuil, Granby and Gatineau.

Towards the end of Saturday night, SPS officers were called to the Bar Microdistillerie downtown. There were apparently about 200 people in the establishment: social distancing was absent and most people were not wearing a mask. An infraction report was to be written up and an official condemnation from public health was to be made.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 12, 2020.