MONTREAL -- Quebec will continue to operate under a state of emergency due to the spread of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus, Premier Francois Francois Legault warned on Wednesday.

The state of emergency was first declared in March 2020 and has been renewed on a constant basis ever since.

Legault said he believes that a recent uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases will continue due to the more contagious variant, as will an increase in hospitalizations.

“It's possible that the relaxations we thought of making will be postponed until later,” he said, expressing a need to be cautious when it comes to public health rules such as mask-wearing in public spaces.

The premier said the state of health emergency, which has been questioned recently by opposition parties, must be extended indefinitely to give the provincial government the powers it needs to keep Quebecers safe.

The comments came during a press scrum held in a Quebec City market.

Prior to his comments, Legault made the rounds of the market's stalls accompanied by his wife, Isabelle Brais, and CAQ MNA Joelle Boutin.  

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Aug. 11, 2021.