Every single Quebec business has been ordered to close until April 13, 2020, to prevent further spread of COVID-19. Premier François Legault made the announcement during his Monday press update about the ongoing pandemic. As the number of cases has increased to 628 in Quebec, the Premier has further implemented strict measures to protect the population.
"Quebec will be on pause for three weeks," Legault notes. All non-essential businesses and enterprises must be closed by March 24 at midnight.
What the CAQ considers "essential services" includes grocery stores, pharmacies, anything in the food supply chain, police, firefighters, and medical professionals.
"We're entering a new stage, a critical stage," says Legault. He added that health officials have noted the first instances of community contagion — wherein the coronavirus is transmitted to people who haven't been in contact with travellers.
The most recent numbers show a huge spike in the number of cases due to an increase in testing capacity. 45 people are hospitalized, with 20 in intensive care. No new deaths have been reported, with the number still at four.
Legault said that it's now time for Quebecers to "unite" and asks that the public shows its "determination, solidarity, and courage" during this troubling time.
The complete list of services the government considers "essential" is forthcoming, Legault explained.
The Premier also announced a "new rule" for seniors in retirement homes that prohibits them from going out except with supervision.
"We have a phenomenon where the majority of people in these residences no longer go out, but there is a small minority who continue to go out and then worry all the seniors in these residences."
Legault admitted he "[knows] this is a tough measure, but it is necessary because the last thing we want in Quebec is for the virus to enter seniors' residences. That is what is most dangerous — what could have the most disastrous results, unfortunately."
These new rules also come as the province and City of Montreal increase their testing capacity, including a new walk-in clinic in the Quartier des Spectacles and the introduction of drive-through testing stations.
Quebec health officials released guidelines for individuals to follow to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the province. You can read about them.
More information on hygiene practices during the pandemic is available on the government of Canada's website here.