At their daily briefing on Tuesday, May 5, François Legault and his colleagues announced that seniors in some residences would now be allowed to go outside without supervision. In a subsequent question period, Dr. Arruda was asked if a small gathering of friends, for example, is also allowed if the two-metre distance rule is respected. His response was predictable, but he also reassured listeners that current restrictions won't last forever.
"Can I, on Saturday afternoon, invite friends to my yard if we keep our chairs two metres apart?" a journalist from Le Soleil asked Arruda.
The National Public Health Director appeared to reject the idea, but declared decisively that "it will come, don't get discouraged."
He himself confessed that he will be "the first one to want to BBQ outside two metres away."
But he made clear the situation is more complex.
"We want to go in stages, we want to avoid gatherings [...] Right now, I'm going to ask you to be a little more patient," he said.
"I know very well that two metres away is not that easy in the context of meals and gatherings."
"It's one thing for people to see each other in front of a house, in the parking lot of the car, two metres away, but it's quite another to gather for a meal."
"Many people are already saying that we are moving fast, and there are a lot of comments about that, so give us time to measure the effects of what we are putting in place."
Amid criticism from unions and the opposition in the National Assembly, the province is set to reopen daycares and elementary schools on May 19 in the Montreal metropolitan community (CMM) and on May 11 everywhere else.
Retail establishments with their own entrances from the exterior already resumed activities on May 4 outside the CMM.
On Monday, Legault announced that the government would postpone the Montreal opening date for such businesses to May 18.
La situation reste stable dans nos hôpitaux, mais dans la région de Montréal, on a moins de marge de manœuvre. C’… https://t.co/0qtJI088Yc— François Legault (@François Legault) 1588621143.0
Both Arruda and the Premier have stressed that they're opting for a gradual reopening of more normal activities to allow public health officials to measure their impact on the population and intervene if necessary.
COVID-19 Voici les éléments importants à retenir aujourd'hui 👇 https://t.co/79MSJpQcZD— François Legault (@François Legault) 1588719600.0
So far, the government hasn't announced opening dates for any other sectors or relaxed any social distancing rules.
Legault previously stated that the two-metre rule will persist for months.
Stay tuned for more news.
This article was originally published in French on Narcity Québec.