MONTREAL -- The reopening of schools, daycares and businesses in the Montreal area has been pushed back until May 25, Premier Francois Legault announced Thursday.

Montreal-area businesses had originally been scheduled to reopen May 11, but that reopening had already been pushed back a week to May 18. Legault's announcement Thursday delays that reopening by another week.

Schools in the Montreal area had been scheduled to reopen May 19; those in the rest of the province are still scheduled to reopen Monday (May 11).

Legault said he and Horacio Arruda, Quebec's national director of public health, decided to postpone the reopenings because the COVID-19 situation in the greater Montreal area is not ideal for doing so according to the previously announced schedule.

"We're seeing that the conditions to keep our initial reopening calendar in Montreal are not met for the moment," Legault said. "And, as I've said in the last days, this (reopening) will happen only if the conditions are met before May 25."

Legault added the May 25 reopenings would only occur if the COVID-19 situation in Montreal continues to stabilize.

The province announced new incentives in the form of bonuses to get health-care workers -- 50 per cent of whom are part-time employees -- to take on full-time hours and help a shortage of employees in long-term care homes.

Those willing to work full-time in long-term care homes, seniors homes and in the hot zones of Montreal's COVID-19 hospitals can earn up to $1,000 per month in bonuses.

Treasury Board President Christian Dube also announced $2,000 per month for workers outside the greater Montreal region willing to come and work full-time.

Legault noted 11,600 employees are absent from the sector, creating a huge strain on human resources.

The province has tried a number of initiatives to fill the gap, including asking anyone willing to work to do so.

There are now 2,631 people who have died of COVID-19 in Quebec, health authorities announced Thursday, as confirmed cases in the province reached 35,238.

That’s up 121 from the 2,510 deaths reported Wednesday; COVID-19 cases in Quebec rose 911 from the 34,327 announced a day earlier.

There are 1,836 people being treated for COVID-19 in Quebec hospitals as of Thursday, down four from the 1,840 reported Wednesday. Of those in a hospital, 224 are in intensive care, up 11 from the 213 reported 24 hours earlier.

There are 1,966 people waiting for COVID-19 test results in Quebec as of Thursday, up 726 from the 1,240 reported Wednesday.

The number of people in Quebec who have recovered from COVID-19 as of Thursday was 8,673 up 389 from the 8,284 recoveries reported a day earlier.

With 17,918 cases of COVID-19, Montreal remains the hardest hit region in Quebec; you can see a regional breakdown of COVID-19 throughout the province here.


- The Canadian Press contributed to this report