----Gatineau under ’10-day pause’ as Covid-19 numbers climb
Announcing new Covid-19 safety regulations during a press conference on March 31, Quebec Premier François Legault declared that the Outaouais is back in the red zone for maximum alert. With cases rising rapidly in certain parts of the province, Legault says the situation is very worrisome in five regions, including the Outaouais – forcing the re-introduction of special emergency measures. The special emergency measures are also in effect in the MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais.
“It’s continuing to deteriorate in Quebec, Levis, and Gatineau,” Legault said, expecting increases in hospitalizations in the coming days. He mentioned Aylmer specifically, emphasizing the need to act rapidly and that the situation is fast changing. He stated that the three cities mentioned are essentially put on pause until at least April 12.
Reinstating the 8 pm to 5 am curfew, people are prohibited from leaving their homes within that time frame, except in certain circumstances. That also means the temporary shut-down of non-essential services, such as personal care salons, movie theatres and museums – like in January – and that businesses will be required to close by 7:30 pm.
Dine-in service in restaurants is also temporarily shutting down, only allowing take-out food with drive-thru pickup or delivery services. People are encouraged to work from home as much as possible. “The situation is critical,” Legault added. “People need to essentially stay home, unless they really need to go work for urgent reasons.”
Indoor and outdoor gatherings are strictly prohibited, only allowing a single individual to enter a specific family’s bubble. A single-parent family can also join another specific family’s bubble.
Indoor and outdoor sports activities are temporarily banned, except when performed alone, in pairs, or in a maximal group of eight people with one supervisor, and participants must socially distance. Libraries and gyms are also closed for the time being.
Responding to the restrictions, Legault said the government will ensure the financial support of businesses to prevent them from permanently closing. Attendance at places of worship is limited to 25 people until further notice.
Police officers are prepared to give fines ranging between $1,000 and $6,000 to people who don’t abide by the rules. People aged 14 and under may be subject to $500 fines.
Preschools, elementary schools and high schools are also closed for the time being. Students will study online instead.
Day care and early child care services remain open, but parents are advised to keep their kids home if possible to limit contact with other people.
Legault urges Quebecers to be mindful of the provincial safety measures, notably two-metre distancing, wearing masks, and avoiding gathering in public – especially this Easter weekend.
“We can’t be organizing parties and gatherings,” Legault says. “This year, we have to celebrate Easter individually at home … we can’t make small exceptions. We need to follow the rules by the book.”