At the May 7 COVID-19 press update, Premier François Legault once again postponed the beginning of deconfinement in Montreal by one week. The reopening of Montreal area businesses, schools, and daycares is now projected for May 25. The announcement comes after yet another increase in the number of confirmed cases and deaths. 

Last week, the Quebec government delayed the reopening of some Montreal businesses, including retail stores with their own entrances from the outside, to May 18.

Outside the Montreal metropolitan community (CMM), those stores began to open on May 4.

The Premier pushed back the reopening date because the "conditions to reopen the city" have not been met. 

He specifically underlined an issue with staffing in local hospitals.

"I want to be very clear, we have about 1,000 beds available in the greater Montreal area. The problem we have is that we do not have the staff to deal with those beds," he explained.

"So, if tomorrow morning there were an increase in the spread of the virus in the greater Montreal area, we would not have all the staff [...] to deal with this increase. That is why we still have a challenge, and I have been telling you for a long time, to increase the number of employees, especially in the greater Montreal area."

He further stressed that the new May 25 date will only hold if the situation improves.

Legault also announced a salary increase for full-time health care workers in the province's hotspots.

Individuals in these "red zones," as the Premier called them, who "work full time, for four weeks, in other words for one month, 36.25 hours a week, will receive a bonus, in addition to salary, of $1,000 a month."

"For a beneficiary attendant, this is about a 30% increase in salary."

The postponement of the reopening of elementary schools and daycares comes after the government received criticism from school boards, unions, and the opposition in the National Assembly.

Quebec's English school boards even claimed a right to set their own dates for the resumption of classes — a proposal Legault rejected.

The English Montreal School Board (EMSB) has said it is working to comply with mandates from the Ministry of Education.

Both the EMSB and Commission Scolaire de Montréal (CSDM) have also outlined strict rules that teachers and students must follow once schools reopen.

As of May 7, there are now 35,238 confirmed cases in Quebec — an increase of 911. Another 121 deaths were recorded for a total of 2,631.

Stay tuned for more news.

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