Now is not the time to reopen gyms, restaurants in Montreal: Legault
by Katelyn Thomas, CTV Montreal
Premier Francois Legault has asked his team to evaluate the possibility of allowing one-on-one gatherings for all Quebecers, not just those living solo.
“I understand very well that there are people right now who are developing all sorts of mental health problems because it’s been a good while now that they cannot see other people," he said at a news conference on Thursday. "First, I’ll remind you, the people who are (living) alone -- regardless of their age -- have the right to have the visit of one person at a time."
But some people who don't live alone -- like students who have been taking online classes since March -- are also struggling, Legault said.
"So I have asked my team to look at the possibility" of allowing individual meetings, he said. "Could a young person meet with another young person? There could be perhaps meetings -- but one at a time."
Despite a possible loosening of red-zone measures, Legault stressed that keeping restaurants, gyms, theatres and concert halls closed is necessary.
“These are opportunities for people gathering – not only in the room itself, but in the entry, in the exit…," he said.
Legault also highlighted the worrisome number of cases of COVID-19 in the north of Lanaudiere and the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean regions of the province. On Thursday, 162 more cases were reported in Lanaudiere (total 7,993) and 109 in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean (total 1,656).
“I have asked the health minister and even the public security minister whether there is anything we can to do help them more to reduce cases" in those regions, Legault said.
“It’s a balance that is difficult to find between saving lives and the quality of life of all Quebecers," he said.
Legault added that since the start of the pandemic, the government has made its decisions based on recommendations by public health authorities, but that it isn't always easy to make those decisions.
“It’s very important to say it’s not an exact science. There is no operational guide on how to manage a pandemic and at which moment to make a decision," he said. “There is no answer, there’s no guide, and I can assure you that I, every single day, I question the decisions that we’ll have taken and I speak with as many people as possible.”
At the end of October, the Quebec government extended its initial 28-day partial lockdown in red zones for another four weeks, with the promise that the decision would be revisited two weeks in.