Restrictions may be eased March 8 in Quebec, based on written public health opinions
QUEBEC CITY -- Regions that are in Quebec's red zones could have their alert level changed as of March 8, according to written opinions from Public Health unveiled on Friday.
The documents suggest that if the situation remains favourable, other indoor facilities, in addition to arenas and swimming pools, could reopen after spring break.
Quebec Public Health, which is headed by Dr. Horacio Arruda, is also planning the return of extracurricular activities in primary and secondary schools from March 8.
In high school, an "adjustment" to alternating attendance (Secondary 3, 4 and 5) is also being considered after March 7, the documents show.
In addition, the issue of organized sports in orange zones will also be reassessed after March 7.
In his most recent opinion sent to the government on Feb. 16, Arruda also commented on the issue of interregional travel.
He said that authorities in the Côte-Nord and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions want random road checks in order to sensitize the population.
So far, the Legault government has refused to reintroduce road checks, as it did in the spring, preferring to ask the police to enforce the curfew.
LEGAULT STRICTER THAN ARRUDA
The written opinions, long kept secret, were made public Friday when the elected members of the National Assembly began a two-week parliamentary recess.
The opposition parties will therefore not have the chance to question Premier Francois Legault on several political choices, which have had a direct impact on the entire population of Quebec.
It's apparent when reading the opinions that the health restrictions imposed by Legault have often been more stringent than what Arruda proposed.
Arruda recommended leaving performance halls, cinemas, theatres, places of worship and restaurants open with restrictions as of Sept. 27.
The director of public health returned to the recommendations several times last fall, based on his written opinions.
On Oct. 22, Arruda also recommended opening museums, libraries, gyms and spas starting Oct. 28.
He wanted to allow children 13 and under to practice organized activities (sports or other) under certain conditions: the activity had to be supervised, with a maximum of 10 people per group.
On Nov. 16, Public Health was ready to allow the practice of supervised activities (sports, cultural etc.) to those 18 and under, but not team sports, as of January.
On the same date, in anticipation of the holiday season, Arruda wondered "if the measures are too damaging" and "will membership be maintained over time or crumble?"
Arruda was, among other things, concerned about the signs of depression he was seeing in adults, especially in Montreal. He said he wanted to give the population release from the tension of the crisis.
On Dec. 7, he proposed the reopening of botanical gardens, zoos, biodomes, insectariums, planetariums and aquariums.
CANADIAN PUBLICH HEALTH AGENCY WARNING
News of Arruda's recommendations comes on the same day as the Public Health Agency of Canada is warning against loosening restrictions, saying modelling shows Canada could see 20,000 cases every day by spring if the variants take hold, and that even the current level of public health measures will not be enough to prevent a resurgence of the virus nationwide.
Currently, the country is averaging less than 3,000 cases a day.
-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 19, 2021. With files form CTV News Montreal's Rob Lurie