Premier François Legault announced a long list of new health rules Thursday aimed at reducing contacts and slowing a meteoric rise in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. Among them is the reintroduction of a nightly curfew, the closure of restaurant dining rooms and the closure of most Quebec stores on Sundays.
"We're seeing more and more that there are sectors that, because of the number of people who have COVID-19, can no longer function normally," Legault said at a press conference.
He hopes the weekly closure will "give a chance to businesses who are missing employees to at least have one day of rest." The plan is for the measure to last "for the next three Sundays" — January 2, 9 and 16, 2022.
On social media, the premier said essential stores, such as pharmacies and gas stations, would be exempt from this new order.
Quebec reported 14,188 new COVID-19 infections on December 30, surpassing the 14,000 daily case barrier for the first time and breaking a record set just 24 hours before, when the province reported 13,149 new cases. That record itself was only a day old.
There were also a total of 939 active hospitalizations reported on December 30, a net increase of 135 from the day before.
The province has already unleashed a sometimes dizzying flurry of new health measures in recent weeks. Bars, gyms and many venues have been closed since December 20. On December 26, Quebec reduced the number of people allowed to gather indoors on private property from 10 to six. Earlier in the month, officials cancelled a plan to increase that number to 20 for the holidays.
The quick succession of new rule announcements demonstrates how rapidly the COVID-19 situation has evolved. As recently as December 16, Premier Legault said that while he wouldn't completely rule out a new curfew, it was not among the measures under immediate consideration.
By December 22, just six days later, officials were reportedly discussing nightly restrictions on travel outside the home.
This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.