Gatineau residents and businesses brace for 10-day strict lockdown

The city of Gatineau begins a 10-day lockdown at 8 p.m. Thursday, forcing the closure of all non-essential businesses and schools.

The rest of the Outaouais region will be moving to the Level-4 Maximum Alert red zone.

"Initially very frustrated and moderately angry," said Gill, a Gatineau resident.

For some — that’s the feeling, as Gatineau prepares for the strict new measures. Residents like Gill are bracing for difficult days ahead.

"Over the past year, when I haven’t been able to workout I fall into like a depression and my mental health gets really bad. Now I’m really anxious every time they close the gyms cuz I know that that’s coming," said Gill.

Like all other gyms in the city, the Anytime Fitness in Hull will have to close its doors for at least the next 10 days.

"It’s been a month I’ve been open again after five months of closure; we’ve been following every rules, everything was in order, so it’s a disappointment again," said Ramy Elahmar, owner of Anytime Fitness in Hull.

The lockdown for Gatineau and the MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais will last until April 12.

The special emergency measures include a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., schools closed for in-person learning, no indoor dining, and non-essential businesses, salons and gyms must close.

The new measures come as health officials reported 126 new cases of the virus in the Outaouais region on Thursday, a new one-day record.

"We must act quickly, this is why I’m announcing that Quebec, Levis, and Gatineau will be on pause," said Premier Francois Legault in a press conference Wednesday.

At Astoria Bistro Botanique in Hull, the news of another closure is difficult.

"We have to tell people, 'Hey, sorry you can’t come in for your shift today.' We have to cancel reservations and those people might decide to not come back," said Jennifer Danis, owner of Astoria.

Staff at the restaurant are preparing to pivot again, hopeful the measures will be enough.

"We’re definitely hopeful it will be just 10 days, if it’s more than that it will be detrimental for many restaurants," said Danis.

Here is a look at the special emergency measures that will be in effect in Gatineau and the MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais from 8 p.m. April 1 until 5 a.m. on April 12.

  • Curfew in effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.;
  • Elementary and secondary schools are closed (e-learning);
  • School-based child care will remain open, but only for essential workers;
  • Educational child care services (daycares, CPEs, family settings) will remain open. However, to limit contact, families are advised to keep their children at home whenever possible, notifying the daycare service in advance;
  • The closing of cinemas, theaters and museums;
  • Closing of dining rooms in restaurants (except for delivery and take-out);
  • Closing of non-essential businesses (curbside delivery and pick-up are possible);
  • Businesses are not allowed to sell non-essential products;
  • A limit of 25 people in places of worship;
  • Outdoor sports or recreational activities permitted only with people residing at the same address or by a group of 8 people with distance.