Cancel Thanksgiving plans: Quebec health minister asks everyone to stay home unless 'truly necessary'

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube walks to a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, Thursday, September 24, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

As Quebec enters its second wave of COVID-19, the province's health minister is once again asking Quebecers to stay home unless absolutely necessary -- regardless of where their regions rank on the province's alert system

He's also telling people to cancel their Thanksgiving plans.

Christian Dube made the announcement at a press conference on Thursday alongside the province's public health director, Dr. Horacio Arruda. 

"If we want to make sure that we break this wave, we must be careful -- and I will repeat myself again -- we must make sure that we limit ourselves to what is truly necessary," Dube said. "What is necessary is to go to work, to go to school, and I would ask you -- I would ask Quebecers -- please avoid social contacts."

Dube announced that the region of Gaspesie has officially entered the yellow zone as of Thursday, but the rest of the province remains the same.

"This could change quickly, but this is where we are currently," Dube said. 

Thursday's announcement comes as public health continues to point out that most of Quebec's recent COVID-19 cases have been linked back to private gatherings -- unlike the trend they noticed during the first wave of the disease. 

"If we continue this way, we will hit a wall," Dube said, "(We have to) avoid as much as possible family suppers, gatherings with friends, barbecues..." 

He said Quebecers should cancel their plans for Thanksgiving. 

"Perhaps we’ll have greater chances of having a nice Christmas," if we do, Dube said. 

However, if people who live together want to dine at a restaurant, they can do so. 

"What I am saying clearly, is avoid friends, avoid having social contacts with people who are not in your bubble," Dube said. 

On Thursday, Quebec reported 582 new cases of COVID-19 -- which is the second time this week the province has recorded more than 580 cases over a 24-hour period. Dube said on Thursday there are 291 active outbreaks of the disease across Quebec and that two days ago, there were approximately 250. 

When asked whether or not Quebec may have to confine the way it did in the spring -- with restaurants and bars and most other businesses closing -- Arruda replied "Anything is possible." 

"What I'm telling you is we do not want another confinement," Dube added. "That is why I'm asking for a second, a third, a fourth effort... Please, avoid social contacts over the next few weeks."

THE "GOOD NEWS" 

Dube announced on Thursday that wait times at the province's COVID-19 testing clinics are now available online.

He also announced that more than 4,000 people signed up on the province's Je contribue website to help with staffing shortages in testing centres and on contact-tracing teams. 

"And that is significant," Dube said.  

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