Some exciting news is expected to be announced today. According to various sources, Premier François Legault will reportedly tell the public that the government is lifting Quebec's curfew as of next Monday.
The curfew was reimposed starting Friday, December 31, when it became mandatory for Quebecers not on a list of exemptions to have to be in their homes from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m.
If the reports La Presse and TVA Nouvelles end up being true, which we'll find out during Legault's press conference later today, the curfew this time around will have been much shorter than the first one, which lasted over four months.
During a tweet on Wednesday evening, Legault shared some news about the province's school situation. "The public health department is in favour of opening primary and secondary schools next Monday, as planned. CEGEPs and universities will also be able to return in person."
Bonne nouvelle! La direction de la sant\u00e9 publique est favorable \u00e0 l\u2019ouverture des \u00e9coles primaires et secondaires d\u00e8s\u00a0lundi prochain, comme pr\u00e9vu.\u00a0Les c\u00e9geps et les universit\u00e9s vont aussi pouvoir retourner en personne. \n\nPour me lire https://www.facebook.com/FrancoisLegaultPremierMinistre/posts/473774357445699\u00a0\u2026
On Tuesday during a press conference, the premier announced unvaccinated Quebecers over the age of 18 will soon be charged a "significant" fee if they refuse to get vaccinated. "All adults in Quebec who don’t accept to go get at least a first dose during the upcoming weeks will have a 'bill' to pay because there are consequences on our health network."
Health measures in Quebec will not be changing in the immediate future, according to Premier François Legault. Despite a slowdown and, most recently, a slight decrease in hospitalizations, the situation is still too fragile to justify relaxing Quebec COVID-19 rules, he said.
"We seem to have reached the peak of hospitalizations today at last," he began in a press conference Thursday afternoon. "Yes, we can predict a decrease in hospitalizations soon, but for the moment we are at the worst of the pandemic with 3,400 hospitalizations."
Legault acknowledged Quebecers who are antsy for things to return to normal as soon as possible.
"You don't know the number of people who write to me, who call me, who talk to me, who tell me they're fed up, who would like the measures to be lifted," he said, reiterating that to do so now would significantly risk the chances of more infections and hospitalization throughout the province.
"We are at 3,400 hospitalizations and we are missing about 12,000 health care workers, so we cannot afford to relax the measures."
The latest numbers and projections offer at least some encouraging news.
Quebec reported 14 fewer COVID-19 hospitalizations on January 20 — the first decrease in weeks. The Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) also said Thursday that though the number of hospitalizations remains high, it appears to have plateaued after weeks of what the institute called "exponential growth."
In the next two weeks, the INESSS forecasts new hospitalizations will drop to 200 per day, down from 353 in the January 20 report. It also expects a "stabilization" in intensive care unit occupancy.
Total COVID-19 hospitalizations could decrease to 3,000 in the next few weeks, as well.
The INESSS cautions, however, that its projections don't take into account the reopening of elementary and high schools on January 17, a factor Legault said Thursday could "have a small effect" on infections.
According to an MLB report, the council rejected the plan on Thursday — around two-and-a-half years after giving the Tampa Bay Rays permission to explore the idea in 2019.
The concept would have seen the Rays split their time between Tampa Bay and Montreal, which the Journal de Montréal described as a "marriage of the Expos and the Rays" with shared custody. The plan involved building two new stadiums — one in the Tampa Bay area and one in Montreal.
In September, Tampa Bay Rays President Matt Silverman even announced that the Rays would be unveiling a "Tampa Bay-Montreal" graphic at Tropicana Field, the team's home stadium, to promote the project during the MLB playoffs. But he abruptly backtracked after facing backlash.
The Federation's Quebec director, Renaud Brossard, said in a statement, "the Rays are welcome to play in Montreal, but Quebec taxpayers aren't going to pay for a new stadium."
Updates on the "sister city" plan subsided in November when the Montreal Baseball Group, the folks behind the push to bring back a Montreal baseball team, said they wouldn't be making any more announcements about the baseball project any time soon.
“We need to pursue our approach with rigour until we are able to share a complete and inclusive vision that will generate support from the community,” said Stephen Bronfman, who has been leading the charge to bring Major League Baseball back to the city.
However, it now looks like Bronfman and his team will have to go another route in order to give Montreal another chance at a baseball team.
Meanwhile, MLB's Adam Berry reported that "With the split-season plan no longer an option, the Rays’ future is unclear beyond the expiration of their use agreement at Tropicana Field following the 2027 season."
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
In its January 20 report, Quebec reported a decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations for the first time in weeks. There were a total of 3,411 COVID-19 hospital patients, 14 fewer than the day before. 285 people were in intensive care — that number remained unchanged.
The January 20 daily report comes as the Institut national d'excellence en santé et en services sociaux (INESSS) releases its latest hospital occupancy projections. The institute noted that though hospitalizations are still high, they seem to have plateaued between January 8 and 14.
In the next two weeks, the INESSS projects the number of new patients admitted to a hospital every day will drop to around 200 (Quebec reported 352 new hospitalizations on January 20). Total hospitalizations, meanwhile, will drop to "about 3,000," according to the forecast — "still well above the level 4 [occupancy level] recently defined by the Ministry of Health," the INESSS says.
The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care is also expected to stabilize.
The INESSS notes, however, that these projections don't take into account changes in health measures, nor the potential effects of the reopening of Quebec elementary and high schools on January 17.
The province also tallied 6,528 new COVID-19 cases on January 20, though official case counts are considered inaccurate since PCR tests are no longer available to the general public.
There were 98 more deaths linked to the disease.
Premier François Legault is set to hold a press conference Thursday afternoon alongside Health Minister Christian Dubé and interim public health director Dr. Luc Boileau.
This article’s cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.
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