Quebec regions fear Montrealers could spread COVID-19 as restrictions lift

Residents of Quebec’s regions want Montrealers to stay away, citing concerns over the large and growing number of COVID-19 cases in the city. 

According to a Leger poll, 80 per cent of Quebecers outside Montreal want the city to remain locked down. The city remains the epicentre of the virus in Canada with the highest concentration of infections in the country. 

In the greater Montreal area, six out of 10 people would prefer Montrealers to stay where they are. 

“Some people have chosen to come to their cottages for a few weeks,” Val-David Mayor Kathy Poulin told CTV News. “For those travelling back and forth, we worry they’ll bring the virus. We’re not afraid of people, we’re afraid of the virus.” 

Several municipal mayors outside Montreal have asked that roadblocks to their regions remain up until at least the end of June. Petitions supporting continued roadblocks have also gathered thousands of signatures, a message that may divide Quebecers, according to President of the Association of Canadian Studies Jack Jedwab.

“That messaging is certainly going to make it feel as though there’s a stigma attached to those of us that are in Montreal,” said Jedwab. “I think the risk of that as we go forward is that the solidarity that we need to demonstrate in order to help us get through this is becoming increasingly fragilized.”

A majority of respondents within Montreal also believe the government is lifting isolation measures too quickly. 

A study released on May 8 suggests that the death toll could increase to 150 per day if the province sees the deconfinement plans through. 

“All we can do is recommend people to stay home and there’s no way we can oblige them to not come over here,” said Poulin. 

As of today, there are 36,986 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 2,786 deaths in Quebec.

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