As Quebec's latest round of restrictions approaches its original February 8 end date, Premier François Legault expects to introduce a new phase of lockdown. While he has all but promised an extension of some major COVID-19 measures in Quebec, some regions could see their rules relaxed — at least partially.
Ahead of the expected announcement on Tuesday, here's what officials have said so far about the next lockdown phase.
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Legault wants to give "a bit of oxygen" to businesses
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Legault opened up about the "difficult decisions" ahead of him.
He said he hopes "to be able to give our businesses a bit of oxygen," making clear, however, that the situation is still subject to change.
His priority, he wrote, is the "health and safety of Quebecers," but he's also weighing questions like, "How many vaccines will we receive in the coming weeks and months? Will the variants of the virus settle in Quebec and cause another wave?" and "How much longer will Quebecers be able to endure health restrictions?"
"Most" measures will stay in place
Legault has been managing expectations about what the next month could entail.
"We are going to make certain adjustments. But I want to be very clear, we will have to be realistic," he said in a press conference on January 28.
Citing hospitalization numbers, he promised that "most of the containment measures will remain."
As for the curfew, the premier said it's "working well," referring to reducing contacts by preventing people from visiting homes that aren't theirs.
Restrictions could vary by region
In a press conference on January 26, Legault suggested measures could vary by region after February 8.
He specifically drew a distinction between the situation in the Greater Montreal area, which he called "more difficult," and the rest of Quebec.
Canada's Chief Public Health Officer wants "strong measures" to remain in place
In a statement published on January 30, Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam stressed what she saw as the importance of both individual health measures and broader restrictions.
"It is crucial that strong measures are kept in place in order to maintain a steady downward trend" in cases, she wrote.
Continued outbreaks in "high-risk populations and communities," she said, "underscore the importance of sustaining public health measures and individual practices and not easing restrictions too fast or too soon."
"This is particularly important in light of the emergence of new virus variants of concern that could rapidly accelerate transmission of COVID-19 in Canada."
The upcoming school break is another "concern" & international travel restrictions are getting tighter
Another factor in the decision about a possible lifting of some measures, Legault said on January 28, is the upcoming school break, which the premier called a "concern" for public health officials.
Addressing families who might be planning vacations, Legault underlined the importance of making sure people aged 65 and older aren't gathering with people who do not live with them.
And, as the provincial government prepares a partial lifting of measures, the federal government is tightening restrictions for international travellers ahead of break season.
In the near future, travellers returning to Quebec from abroad will have to undergo mandatory testing at Montreal-Trudeau airport and wait at a hotel at their own expense until they receive the results.
Quebec police have also taken up the task of enforcing quarantine rules for these travellers.
According to Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault, police in the province will be able to fine people found in violation of quarantine requirements beginning February 1.
Premier Legault is expected to make his announcement on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m.