Quebec Premier François Legault flanked by the province’s Public Health Director Horacio Arruda and Health Minister Danielle McCann, announced Thursday a series of new measures to combat COVID-19 in the province.
There are currently 13 confirmed cases in Quebec. Two of those people are in hospital.
“We need to delay the contagion,” Legault said. “The next few weeks will be critical, and our goal is to slow the propagation of the virus as much as possible.”
Those measures include self-isolation for people returning from abroad. Anyone who has left the country, or is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, is encouraged to self-isolate for 14 days.
The measure is mandatory for government employees who work in health or education.
Indoor events with more than 250 people present are also banned, the government announced. Quebec is also asking any non-essential events be cancelled.
Anyone who can work from home is encouraged to do so.
Legault warned “that it will take months before we see the end of this situation.”
“I know I’m asking a lot,” Legault said. “But if we want to succeed, I need the help of all Quebecers — not to travel anywhere, not to go to a show, a hockey game. It’s a major change, but this is very critical.”
“When we see what happened in Italy, for example … I think people can understand it’s for the best of all Quebecers that I’m asking.”
Legault said they are not ruling out more intense measures in the future, such as shutting down schools or putting the City of Montreal under quarantine.
“I will tell you, everything is possible. We will make a logical decision based on the situation,” Arruda said.
Public sector employees who self-isolate will be paid. Legault is asking for the private sector to be understanding, and said the government will announce financial compensation for private workers who self-isolate in the coming days.
- The government is banning all indoor events with more than 250 people. That includes sporting events such as Habs games.
- People returning from abroad should self-isolate for 14 days, regardless of where they came from. This is mandatory for public sector employees in the health and education systems.
- Schools remain open but shouldn’t have more than 250 students in the same room.
- Anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms should also stay home for 14 days.
- Anyone who can work from home should do so.
- The St. Patrick’s Day parade, scheduled for Sunday, is cancelled.
- Provincial government will announce measures to help private companies affected. Legault said private companies, like the public sector, should pay employees in self-isolation.
- 13 cases have been confirmed, with 136 still under investigation. Two are currently in hospital.
Montreal mayor considers workplace changes
On Thursday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante told reporters she would consider shutting down the city gradually — if Quebec health authorities deem it appropriate.
“Ultimately, it will be done step by step,” Plante said. “We cannot close the city in one shot like that, but it’s how we put together the measures to minimize the risk of spread.”
Plante said it would be up to the province whether to shut down schools or the public transit system, but she said she is considering asking local employers to change their work schedules so that fewer employees would crowd the city’s Metro system and busses at the same time.
“It has to be decisions made as well, and primarily, by the government of Quebec to support all these people stuck at home and what it means for a city the size of Montreal,” Plante said.