Quebec recently classified some regions* in the province as moving up from the green to the yellow level, according to its COVID-19 Regional Alert and Response System. It seems obvious that this means things are getting worse, but many Montrealers have found themselves wondering what other changes the colour-coded levels indicate. While the government revealed some details about the restrictions that accompany each level, they were few and far between — until now. 

On September 16, public policy analyst Patrick Déry leaked a government presentation on Twitter that explained — in detail — what our new reality could look like at each different level.

A version of the document has since been made public on the Ministry of Health and Social Services website. 

In the presentation, the government's protocols and plans for the green, yellow, orange and red levels are laid out clearly.

And it's alarming to think that this could be our future if cases continue to rise. 

Should the virus spread enough to reach the orange zone, private gatherings will be limited to six people and public gatherings will be limited to 50 people.

Bars, restaurant dining rooms, casinos, contact sports, gyms and spas could also shut down again and a mask would be required at all times — including in outdoor markets. 

In order for Quebec to shift to the orange level, the COVID-19 numbers need to show certain criteria, including:

  • Six to 10 cases per 100,000 people

  • A 3-5% proportion of positive tests

  • A 20 to 40% proportion of intensive care hospital beds dedicated to coronavirus patients

Luckily, the orange level is considered a short-term intervention, while the government tries to contain the spread of the virus and get the population back to the green level.

Obviously, restrictions at the red level are even more intense. For instance, private gatherings would be limited to members of the same household. 

But ideally, it won't come to that.

The document shows at least 40% of intensive care beds would need to be occupied by COVID-19 patients in order to warrant that level of alert.

At the green level — or what the document calls our "new normal" — base measures are still in place.*

So it looks like we'd better get used to social distancing, barriers in physical spaces, limiting interpersonal contact and hand-washing stations in public areas. 

You can check out the government's plan for potential next stages of the pandemic here.


*This article has been updated.

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