If you're planning on celebrating the holiday season with a drink at a bar or a meal at a local restaurant, you may notice more police officers than usual.
In a press release, Deputy Premier and Public Safety Minister Geneviève Guilbault announced that "increased police interventions will take place throughout Quebec during the holiday season, particularly at restaurants and bars."
The main goal of the police interventions, the press release says, is to ensure that the owners and staff members of bars and restaurants are following COVID-19 rules related to checking vaccine passports "by supporting [them] in the implementation of these measures."
The press release also says police will be paying "particular attention" to Quebecers' behaviour when it comes to respecting sanitary rules in public places.
"The next few weeks will be conducive to festive gatherings; I thereforeinvite us to take advantage of this period to have a good time with our loved ones and colleagues while respecting public health rules," said Minister Guilbault in a statement.
"It is important to maintain safe behaviours during the holidays, for our health and to get us out of this pandemic as quickly as possible."
While these special police interventions are planned throughout the holiday period, the press release specifies that you can expect increased police presence on December 9, 10 and 11 as well as December 16, 17 and 18.
Announcing the new gathering rules at a press conference earlier this week, Health Minister Christian Dubé also touched on holiday gatherings in restaurants.
"In restaurants at this moment, there's probably been some relaxation [in the health measures] and there will be Christmas parties at restaurants in these next few weeks [...] It's okay but please, make sure people are vaccinated and that you ask for the vaccine passport," he said.
In Quebec, a vaccine passport is required to access many businesses and activities deemed non-essential, including restaurants and bars.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
A service firearm seems to have disappeared from one of the Quebec police stations on Saturday, January 15, and since then, a major investigation has been underway to try to shed light on this incident, which remains unsolved as of the time of publication.
Regarding the nature of the weapon's disappearance, Sergeant Catherine Bouchard of the Sûreté du Québec said police cannot currently "confirm a theft," but that they are "not ruling out any hypothesis" regarding the absence of service weapon from one of their police stations.
We're told that the exact police station involved cannot be mentioned for security reasons.
According to Bouchard, the Sûreté du Québec have been checking for the missing weapon since the night of January 15, but to no avail. The investigation was still ongoing this Sunday morning.
"A crime scene technician was dispatched to the scene, accompanied by the major crimes unit, to investigate the event," continued the sergeant.
At the time of writing this article, very little detail was able to be provided surrounding the situation, which makes it unclear if there are any signs of offences being committed.
"We have already deployed our specialized resources, such as forensic identification, to have the scene analyzed, but this information remains confidential at this time for the sake of the investigation," concluded Bouchard.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
On December 30, 2021, François Legault announced a handful of restrictions across Quebec, which included the closure of indoor dining and places of worship, and the postponement of a return to in-person learning at schools in the new year. In a January 13 Facebook post, Legault confirmed elementary and high school students would be returning to class as of Monday, January 17. But what about university students?
Montreal CEGEPs and universities also reverted to remote learning, however, things are looking a little different for students returning to in-person classes at post-secondary institutions. Premier Legault stated in a January 12 post that while universities could reopen their doors as of the 17th, they are being given extra leeway to determine the exact date in which in-person classes could resume.
Concordia University students are expected to return back to in-person learning on February 3, per a recent news notice. Vannina Maestracci, the university spokesperson, revealed that the initial date was extended beyond January 20, and any possibility of a further extension will be relayed to the community as soon as possible.
The Concordia Library and Birks Student Service Centre remain open, along with a number of designated break areas for students to eat. As for mask requirements, students will be expected to wear procedure masks "when entering university buildings and using shared indoor spaces," including classrooms, the university states.
In-person learning will be returning even earlier for McGill University students. With "Tier 1" activities (labs, etc.) having been in-person since January 10, most instruction will be moving from online to in-person as of January 24. McGill's media relations rep, Katherine Gombay issued a statement that despite plans for return, the university remains flexible with contingency plans put into place in case the COVID-19 situation changes.
Université de Montreal is expected to return to in-person sessions as of January 31,* although their libraries have remained open. The university has also made it clear that the use of masks is "mandatory" across campus for all activities at all times.
The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) has also stated that remote learning will take place until January 31.* However, many activities in which face-to-face teaching is essential will return as early as January 24.
Have you been having a hard time trying to procure a rapid test in Quebec? You're not alone! Luckily it seems as if there is a glimmer of hope as the distribution of rapid tests is set to pick up province-wide.
Now, as PCR tests are reserved for priority groups, at home rapid tests have become the norm and Santé Québec is clarifying exactly when to use the testing kit for a more accurate diagnosis.
La personne est contagieuse environ 2 jours avant l\u2019apparition de sympt\u00f4mes, m\u00eame pour les asymptomatiques \n Le test rapide doit \u00eatre fait dans les jours qui suivent les contacts de cas ou au d\u00e9but des sympt\u00f4mes pour que la charge virale ait plus de chances d\u2019\u00eatre d\u00e9tect\u00e9epic.twitter.com/mb3xRFGxdb
"People can become contagious about 2 days before the appearance of symptoms, even for asymptomatic people," the Ministry of Health said in a January 12 tweet alongside a graph comparing the efficacy of rapid and PCR tests over time.
To avoid running the risk of a false negative, potentially wasting a test, Santé Québec says that "the rapid test should be done within days of contact with a positive case or at the onset of symptoms for the virus to be more likely detected."
The rapid tests, the graph shows, are effective for less than a week following the onset of symptoms — just a fraction of the 14-day window in which a PCR test can detect a COVID-19 infection.
PCR tests are effective almost as soon as an infected person becomes contagious, about four days after contact with a positive case, according to the ministry.
Though right now Quebec isn’t counting the number of positive at-home tests — leading to an undercount in official tallies — the government is creating a platform where the public can self-report their COVID-19 status.
That is if residents can find a rapid test at all. Pharmacies have been in short supply despite promises of widespread distribution.
However, recent announcements suggest the situation could be changing.
In a January 5 press release, the Association québécoise des pharmaciens propriétaires (AQPP) said that Quebec was set to receive another batch of testing kits beginning Tuesday, January 11, and continuing into the following week. The testing kits, which are available to those 14 years of age and over, include five tests and can be replenished per 30 day period.
On January 13, the Ministry of Health announced the province is set to receive another 70 million rapid tests over the course of the next few months, pending Health Canada's approval of a partnership with a private distributor.
A Montreal restaurant promises to open on January 30 in violation of public health rules. Quebec ordered the closure of bars on December 20 and restaurant dining rooms on December 31 and has not said when they can reopen.
"We can no longer comply with these arbitrary measures that have been proven NOT to be effective in solving the issue we are all faced with," avenue Fairmount Italian restaurant Kesté wrote in an Instagram post Thursday, further warning that "if something doesn't change and we don't take a stand small businesses will turn into something of the past."
Kesté is calling on other restaurants, bars and cafés to open on January 30, too. It shared an image of a flier encouraging businesses to "take back our rights" and participate in a "national mass movement" of civil disobedience.
"As a city we all need to work together to no longer allow any more unnecessary lockdowns that no one supports," the Instagram post reads. "We cannot fix the damage done in the past but we can definitely prevent it from happening again."
Health Minister Christian Dubé responded to Kesté's commitment to reopen in a press conference on Thursday.
"We understand that people want to go back as quickly as possible to a normal life," he said. "But we need to do things gradually."
"I would just ask this restaurant owner and all other merchants to be patient. I know it's difficult." He pointed to government programs offering businesses financial support.
"I'm just saying, let's make sure that we don't go back."