Quebec’s government has issued an unprecedented directive for all non-essential services to close their businesses.
“In other countries (the number) was exponential. It could be exponential here,” Premier Francois Legault said on Sunday. “What we are doing will save lives.”
Most recreational spaces in the province, including movie theatres, arcades, waterparks, ski hills, bars and gyms will be closed, though essential services will stay open. The directive to close does not include office towers or stores yet.
Restaurants are being allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity, with clients seated with an empty table between them. Takeout locations are not being restricted.
The province’s public health director, Horacio Arrudo, said that he wasn’t being over-the-top and Quebecers should heed the order.
“It’s not time to panic, but time to act... We’re not suggesting this because we feel like playing dictator. We’d prefer to be cautious.”
Arrudo said the measure was to prevent people from gathering elsewhere now that schools and daycares were closed in the province.
“Do what we say, please, I implore you, for your health and the health of your co-citizens.”
Legault advised Quebecers to stay at least one metre from each other, and try to stay home when possible.
“We should go out only to work, buy bread, go to the pharmacy, get health care, take a walk or go help people age 70 and up.”
The move comes as COVID-19 cases in the province jumped overnight. The province had 35 confirmed cases at the time of publishing, up from 24 on Saturday.
Legault declared a public health emergency on Saturday, which gave his government extra powers to deal with the outbreak like the ability to order the closure of public spaces. He also asked people over 70 to stay home for their own protection as they’re at the most risk.
On Sunday, the premier also pushed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to close the country’s borders to foreigners.
“I continue to think it’s not a good idea to receive foreign tourists in Canada,” he said. “We’ll continue discussing this issue with the federal government.”
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