"We do understand that people are tired."
Amid an "explosion" of new COVID-19 cases — Quebec broke a record for new daily case counts on December 17 — the government is imposing a flurry of new health rules beginning on December 20.
It's also reversing a plan to allow bigger holiday parties.
"We do understand that people are tired," National Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda said at a press conference on December 16.
"The problem is the virus is not tired and it's coming back. And this is a problem and it's the epidemiology that makes us take those decisions that we don't like. We would prefer to be in another situation, but the virus is still fighting us."
Here's a breakdown of the new rules and current gathering restrictions.
Sorry, Aunt Becky. You can't come to the New Year's Eve party this year.
While on December 7 the government announced a plan to allow as many as 20 fully vaccinated people at private gatherings for the holidays, it reversed course in light of the spread of the Omicron variant.
Currently, only a maximum of 10 people are allowed to attend an indoor private gathering if they're from more than three different households. It's going to stay that way for the foreseeable future, including Christmas and New Year's.
Alternatively, up to 20 people can attend an outdoor gathering on private property.
Even with these restrictions, Premier François Legault called on Quebecers to exercise caution. "You have to be very careful and do only what is necessary," he said, referring to gathering plans.
The government asks unvaccinated people to wear masks if party attendees are just 1 metre apart.
Despite gathering limits, Health Minister Christian Dubé promised that, unlike in previous waves of COVID-19, police officers will not be trolling neighbourhoods for rulebreakers this season.
Finally, there will be no in-person office holiday parties this year.
Restaurants and bars
Restaurants and bars are going back down to 50% capacity as of Monday, December 20.
Stores, theatres and other venues
Stores, theatres and venues will also be down to 50% capacity on December 20.
So will cinemas and other public events or performances where attendees will have to remain seated and masked except to eat or drink.
Places of worship will also see their capacity go down to 50% or a maximum of 250 people, whichever is lower. Worshippers will need to present their vaccine passports to enter.
Weddings and funerals, however, won't require a vaccine passport so long as they keep attendance at or below 25 people.
Tournaments and competitions will be suspended as of December 20 and indoor activities will be limited to 25 people.
In addition to a 50% capacity limit, spas will require vaccine passports as of the same date except for people seeking specific personal care.
As for gyms — which, based on our comments section, are something many Montrealers care singularly about — they'll also be limited to 50% of their capacity. Gymgoers will have to practice ye olde 2-metre physical distancing.
Quebec is postponing the 2022 in-person state date for universities, cegeps and high schools.
Following their winter breaks, schools will only be able to physically reopen to students on January 10. Classes can begin before then, but they'll have to be remote.
Schools with semester start dates after January 10 can of course maintain their schedules.
Elementary schools, meanwhile, can reopen as planned, even if that's before January 10.
Legault said keeping elementary schools open has been a priority for his government not only because, in their view, it's best for children, but also because schools have been facilitating the vaccination campaign.
What about a curfew?
There will be no curfew — for now.
Asked directly whether the government foresees reimposing a curfew, Legault said it did not, but was open to all possibilities as the situation progresses.
"The measures we announced today are the measures we think will be enough to change the situation," he said.
"Of course, the increase in the number of cases may change in the next few days, the next few weeks, so we may have to adjust our measures, but today we don't have a plan to put again a curfew."
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
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