With students heading back to class soon, the government will implement a number of health measures and rules to "ensure the safety of students."
First, wearing a mask will only be mandatory in primary and secondary school classrooms located in the following nine regions: Centre-du-Québec, Estrie, Lanaudière, Laurentides, Laval, Mauricie, Montérégie, Montreal and Outaouais.
In these regions, mask-wearing will be required "inside the school, either in class, at daycare, in common areas and when students are travelling on school transport," according to a press release.
Students in the following eight regions won't have to wear masks in class, but will have to wear masks in common areas and when moving through the school building or on school transport: Bas-Saint-Laurent, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord, Nord-du-Québec, Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Capitale-Nationale and Chaudière-Appalaches.
Students in universities, CEGEPs and adult educations and vocational training centres in every region will also have to wear masks in class.
Another big rule is that high schoolers will need to have a vaccine passport "for certain extracurricular sports and physical activities [...] and for participation in inter-school games or competitions in the case of special sports programs and sports-study programs."
The vaccine passport will be required for all indoor sports and physical activities and for outdoor activities that "[involve] frequent or prolonged contact."
Finally, officials will supply rapid tests to schools where the "epidemiological situation is worrying."
"The impacts of not having a normal school life can be for years," National Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda said at a press conference.
"Our ultimate goal is to keep students in school and avoid closing classrooms and as much as possible, avoid distance learning," Minister of Education Jean-François Roberge added.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Minister Dubé was asked what he thought about the crowd, consisting of nearly 15,000 fully vaccinated spectators, and whether discotheques should also have relaxed measures.
"It is certain that when you have been under the yoke of this pandemic for 18-19 months and you find yourself in a show [...] it is difficult to hold back," said Minister Dubé.
"Well, I'm not a fan of Mr. Iglesias, but the one before [Ricky Martin] was more rhythmic," he added with a laugh.
The spectators were required to wear a mask and remain seated at all times. But according to images circulating on social media, fans were gripped by dance fever leading some people to stand up and some masks to come down.
"I think the Bell Center had set the conditions to be respected. There are people who may not have respected the rules. We can understand, not that I excuse them, but we can understand," said Minister Dubé, admitting that "it was a bit of a stretch what we saw there."
Minister Dubé also said he hopes there won't be too many COVID-19 cases as a result of last weekend's event.
"Just because things are going well on the stabilization side doesn't mean we should let go of the health measures. So I hope that those who have been given flexibility, like the Bell Centre, will make sure they follow the measures," he said.
"Administering an additional dose, ideally of a messenger RNA vaccine, provides better protection against COVID-19 where there is widespread circulation of the Delta variant," the government states online.
A third dose should be administered "four weeks or more" after a second dose. People living in private seniors' residences, CHSLDs and RI-RTF should get their third dose six months after their second, the government says.
The additional dose is needed even if the individual was diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past.
Individuals may go to a walk-in vaccination clinic or make an appointment on the Clic Santé portal.
At a press conference on Thursday, Quebec Health Minister Chrisitan Dubé announced that the Bell Centre will be able to welcome a full house, with mask-wearing and vaccine passports in place, for the upcoming Montreal Canadiens season.
This is compared to the 7,500 spectators that were allowed at the Bell Centre previously.
The Bell Centre is just one venue impacted by Dubé's announcement, which allows all halls with assigned seating to fill their seats to maximum capacity beginning on October 8, as long as masks and vaccine passports are in effect.
This includes venues for conventions, conferences, assemblies, meetings, and graduation ceremonies as well as theatres and cinemas.
"We did relatively well in September," said Dubé, "but we can't claim victory yet. [...] We know there will be more contact indoors in October."
In Quebec, a vaccine passport is required to access many businesses and activities deemed non-essential, including restaurants and bars.
"We're going to have good news tomorrow," Health Minister Christian Dubésaid Wednesday ahead of a joint press conference with Culture and Communications Minister Nathalie Roy scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday.
National Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda suggested at a press conference this week that the government's next move would be to ease restrictions in larger venues by making further use of the vaccine passport system.
"We're going to go to places where there has not been an outbreak, we're going to go to large areas, we're going to use the vaccine passport more and more," Arruda said in response to a question about increasing capacity in arenas and theatres.
Dubé added that "if there is any relief [from measures] in the next few days, it will be for the double-vaccinated."
The presence of Roy at the Thursday press conference suggests there will be an announcement about cultural activities.