More testing needed before Montreal economy, schools can reopen, mayor Plante says

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante applauded the Quebec government's decision to delay the re-opening of the city's economy and schools on Thursday.

“I totally agree with this decision. Public health must come first all the time,” she said, adding that the extra week will help businesses and schools better prepare for the challenges ahead.

Plante declined to give a specific date for business owners to pin their hopes on. She struck a cautiously optimistic note regarding the province's new goal of reopening some retail spaces and the city's schools on May 25.

“That decision is for the government of Quebec and public health authorities,” she said. “I hope, like business owners, that May 25 will be the right day. If we can have targeted actions then we can reopen businesses on May 25.”

She added that any decision on reopenings will ultimately hinge on the city's ability to track COVID-19 outbreaks.

The provincial government has set a goal of 14,000 COVID tests per day in the province, but has thus far fallen well short of that target.

“I hope the health network and government of Quebec will find the material to get (to 14,000),” said Plante. “We absolutely need to have more tests to better understand the situation and act in a targeted way.”

As of Thursday, there have been 17,918 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Montreal and 1,666 deaths, increase of 476 and 104, respectively, over the previous day.

Montreal North continues to be home to the city's largest outbreak in both total cases and on a per capita basis, with 1,615 cases or 1,917 per 100,000 people.

Other areas with more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 people include Riviere-des-Prairies-Pointe-aux-Trembles (1,217), Cote-St-Luc (1,201) Lasalle (1,155), Ahuntsic-Cartierville (1,074) and Verdun (1,066).

MORE ECONOMIC AID

Plante also announced $5 million in new aid for Montreal businesses struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The help is targeted specifically at merchants as well as social economy businesses and the city's cultural industry.

Plante said $2 million of the money is direct subsidies for merchants, that, unlike a loan, does not have to be paid back.

One program includes financing for a gift card system, in which Montrealers can purchase the cards for use after businesses reopen their doors.

Also included in the package is $500,000 for non-subsidized private cultural venues, such as independent cinemas.  

  Cases in Montreal by age and region
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