On Wednesday, Québec Premier François Legault, Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé, and Québec Director of Public Health, announced that five regions will become alert level orange zones for COVID-19 measures. As of March 8, the regions of Capitale-Nationale (Québec City), Chaudière-Appalaches, Estrie, Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec will change their color code.

The Laurentides region, which includes the MRC d’Argenteuil, and the Montérégie region, which includes Pointe-Fortune, Rigaud, and Hudson, will remain as red zones.

In the orange regions, the curfew will remain in effect, but will be pushed back from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. This also means, for these regions, the reopening of fitness facilities, performance halls and restaurants (maximum of two adults per table, accompanied, if necessary, by children). Also, practices alone, in pairs or by the occupants of the same private residence of sports and leisure activities in open indoor public places will be permitted.

The regions of Montreal, the Laurentides, Lanaudière, Montérégie and Laval, will remain at the red level. “There are still too many active cases. To be on the safe side, we must keep these regions in the red zone, “said Legault.

The Premier made it clear that, although the epidemiological situation has greatly improved in all the regions that will pass to the orange level, in recent weeks, the question of variants continues to be of concern. “When we look at the pandemic situation in general, we see a stabilization in the number of cases and hospitalizations. We hit a plateau. In fact, the increase in the British variant, which is more contagious, halted the descent. Our fear is that it will start to rise again. We will have to remain very careful if we do not want to return to the red zone. I want to be very clear: even in the orange regions, private gatherings will remain prohibited. Our room for maneuver is limited,” warned Legault.

Additional relaxations

The relaxations that were announced on February 26, will remain in place after March 8, particularly with regard to public swimming pools, skating rinks and cinemas, which will remain open in the red and orange zones. “We would like to be able to announce soon additional flexibility, especially for young people, in sports and recreation, but we must go very gradually,” Legault said.

Certain extracurricular activities in preschool, elementary and secondary schools will be able to resume, as of March 15, in class groups only, everywhere in Québec, both in the orange zone and red zones.

In the orange zone, places of worship will be able to accommodate a maximum of 100 people, as of March 8, on the condition of the strict application public health measures.

If the epidemiological situation remains favorable, new relaxations should be announced, as of next week, for theatres, places of worship and sports.

“I know the importance of sports in the lives of people, especially young people. There is nothing better than exercise to relieve stress. It is essential for the mental health of many, but we must all understand that certain sports can bring contact and, therefore, contagion,” cautioned Legault.

The curfew will remain in effect throughout Quebec, at 8 p.m. in the red zone and at 9:30 p.m. in the orange zone, that teleworking will remain mandatory and that gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, will always be banned, everywhere in Québec and at all times.