Quebec's Latest Gathering Rules Are Now In Effect

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Quebec's Latest Gathering Rules Are Now In Effect

Quebec's latest limitations on private gatherings took effect on December 26. While, until that date, as many as 10 people could participate in a private indoor gathering, Quebecers can now have a maximum of only six people in their homes if they're from more than two different households.

The new rule also applies to restaurant tables, tourist accommodations and any other rented room.

This further limitation on gatherings comes after the government imposed a number of other restrictions, including the closure of bars and gyms, and a renewed work from home order.

Quebec is facing a surge in new COVID-19 cases driven by the highly infectious Omicron variant. The province's daily case count broke multiple records in December, though officials have warned that even those staggering numbers are an underestimation given the introduction of rapid at-home testing.

Meanwhile, a suspension of daily case reports between December 24 and 26 has meant that the public has been in the dark about the spread of the disease, though multiple outlets did report on Christmas Eve that Quebec had for the first time surpassed 10,000 new confirmed cases in a 24-hour period.

Premier François Legault and Health Minister Christian Dubé have not ruled out the possibility of imposing additional health measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including a province-wide vaccination order.

"The measures we're announcing this evening, we believe that they're enough to keep control of the hospitals," the premier said on December 22.

"But we won't hesitate in the next few days if it is necessary to add other measures. It's important for everybody to understand this."

As of Saturday, January 22, Canadians looking to cross the U.S. border by land or by ferry will need to be fully vaccinated and provide proof of vaccination to border patrol officers. This is following similar regulations for air travel into the United States put in place in early January.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed the changes, which were first announced in October of last year, in a release issued on January 20.

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Quebec COVID-19 Rules Could Gradually Start Being Lifted Before Mid-February

That's public health director Dr. Boileau's prediction, at least.

Is Quebec on track for a Valentine's Day gift? Though Premier François Legault said Thursday that the province isn't yet in a place that would allow the government to lift more Quebec COVID-19 rules, interim public health director Dr. Luc Boileau suggested that could change by mid-February.

In an interview on Radio-Canada program Tout un matin Friday morning, the director told host Patrick Masbourian that public health experts are currently "working extremely hard to try to weigh" the risks associated with higher numbers of infections and hospitalizations "to make them compatible with a loosening of restrictions."

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Legault Won't Lift Other Quebec COVID-19 Restrictions For Now

"For the moment we are at the worst of the pandemic."

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."

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Quebec COVID-19 Hospitalizations Have Finally Gone Down After Climbing For Weeks

Legault is holding a press conference Thursday afternoon.

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.

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