MONTREAL -- Quebecers now have to wear masks while participating in outdoor group activities, following new rules aiming to slow the spread of highly contagious coronavirus variants.

Several new restrictions were added to the province’s pandemic measures this week. Masks are also now mandatory in all workplaces, including for people who work outdoors if they are likely to come within two metres of another person.

The work related order comes after the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) released recommendations for mandatory masks in workplaces last week.

The INSPQ also recommends workers rotate meal times, favour eating in individual offices when possible or that companies make more rooms available for workers.

“We must act in a preventive manner and increase our level of precaution,” wrote Premier Francois Legault in a post to social media outlining the new rules.

“The presence of variants is increasingly large and dangerous,” he wrote. “The situation continues to be of concern, particularly given our fragile health system.”


On Wednesday, Quebec reported that more than 12,000 variant cases have been detected. Under increased observation (which can take weeks), 1,592 cases have been fully sequenced to determine exactly which mutation they are.

Of the sequenced cases, the majority of them (1,424) are the UK variant, B.1.1.7, and have mostly been found in and around Montreal. A smaller concentration of the South African mutation, B.1.351, has appeared in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

“The situation is worrying with the variants,” wrote Montreal Health Director Dr Mylene Drouin. “But Montrealers are ready to continue fighting.” 

Following two high-profile COVID-19 briefings this week, Premier Francois Legault is scheduled to appear again on Thursday evening at 5 p.m., a time usually reserved for significant coronavirus-related announcements.

The last-minute press conference was announced Wednesday evening, and the province has so far given no indication of what leaders will address.

LISTEN TO CJAD 800 RADIO: What are the new mask rules? Who can now get a vaccine? Dr. Mitch Shulman has more