Orange Zone Will Be Extended To 5 Quebec Regions

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Premier François Legault announced that the Capitale-Nationale, Chaudière-Appalaches, Mauricie, Estrie, and Centre-du-Québec regions will enter the orange zone as of March 8.

"This means gyms, adult sports, theatres [and] restaurants will be able to reopen from next Monday and [stay open] until 9 p.m. and the curfew will move to 9:30 p.m. in these regions," said Legault. 

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What about the other regions?

The Montreal, Laval, Montérégie, Lanaudière and Laurentides regions, meanwhile, will stay in the red zone.

The premier explained that in these regions "public health predicts that in the next weeks there will be an increase in cases and hospitalizations."

His announcement came after Montreal Regional Public Health Director Dr. Mylène Drouin warned of a possible "third wave" as the B.1.1.7 variant — which originated in the U.K. — continues to spread in the region.

On Tuesday, provincial Health Minister Christian Dubé said he was "afraid" the city was seeing a "calm before the storm."

Currently, only Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Côte-Nord, Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Nord-du-Québec, Outaouais and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean are orange-zone regions.

Is Quebec planning any other reopenings?

Yes. Legault promised to present a "complete plan for the gradual deconfinement of the sports sector" next week.

The premier also said the government would continue to evaluate "what we're capable of doing" for theatres and places of worship in red zones, explaining that officials are first waiting to gauge the "impact" of the March break this week.

As for adjustments to the curfew, Legault said any considerations would "depend on the evolution of the variants and the effects of March break."

"It's difficult to predict exactly where we'll be. We know we have several difficult weeks ahead of us."