Elementary schools reopening in Outaouais Monday, with some restrictions eased in parts of the region

GATINEAU, QUE. — Elementary school children in Gatineau and western Quebec will be able to return to class starting Monday.

Quebec Premier François Legault announced in a press conference Tuesday that elementary schools in the entire Outaouais region can reopen Monday, May 10, but that special emergency measures keeping many businesses closed will remain in effect.

“The situation is improving when it comes to cases but it is still fragile,” Legault said of the Outaouais region. “The majority of hospital beds for patients with COVID-19 are occupied.”

The CISSS de l’Outaouais reported its lowest daily case count in weeks on Monday with 15 new cases. There were 32 new cases reported Tuesday. The health unit said Tuesday that there are 45 patients in hospital, nine of whom are in intensive care. There are 77 beds in the region, the CISSS de l’Outaouais told CTV News Ottawa.

Restrictions easing in some parts of the region

Legault said that some municipalities in the Outaouais region, where the situation is not as severe, would see an easing of restrictions next week.

Special emergency measures will lift in the MRC de Papineau and the MRC de La Vallée-de-la-Gatineau at 12:01 a.m. Monday, and they will return to the “Level-4” or “red zone” restrictions, which will allow high schools and some non-essential businesses to reopen. The curfew in those two areas will also begin at 9:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m.

For the remainder of the Outaouais, including the city of Gatineau, the special emergency measures will remain in effect until further notice. Last week, Legault had extended the measures to at least May 9. On Tuesday, the Quebec government’s guidance for emergency measures changed to give no definitive end date.

Despite this, Legault was optimistic that the situation in Quebec is improving and a further easing of restrictions could be weeks away.

“We hope that in the next few weeks [we’ll bring] many zones to orange so that we can open restaurants in May,” he said.

Special emergency measures

  • Curfew in effect from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m;
  • High schools are closed (e-learning);
  • Private indoor or outdoor gatherings are prohibited;
  • Elementary schools opening as of May 10;
  • High schools remain closed;
  • Educational childcare services (day care centres, childcare centres, and family childcare services) remain open;
  • Educational childcare services remain open;
  • The closing of cinemas, theaters and museums;
  • The closing of restaurants (except for delivery and take-out);
  • The closing of non-essential businesses (delivery and curbside pick-up are possible);
  • Businesses are not allowed to sell non-essential products;
  • A limit of 25 people in places of worship;
  • The closure of indoor sports and recreation facilities, including gyms;
  • Outdoor sports or recreational activities permitted only with people residing at the same address or by a group of 8 people with distance. Masks must be worn in any group of 2 or more people who do not reside at the same address, unless the people remain seated at a 2 m distance from each other.

Level 4–Maximum Alert (red) measures 

  • Curfew in effect from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.;
  • Private indoor or outdoor gatherings are prohibited;
  • Elementary schools and high schools are open as of May 10;
  • Funerals are limited to a maximum of 25 people, excluding funeral home workers and volunteers inside or outside the funeral home. A attendance register must be kept and a procedure mask must be worn. No alcohol or food can be served;
  • Place of worship are limited to 25 participants. This maximum number of people also applies for funerals and weddings;
  • Restaurant dining rooms are closed Delivery, takeout, and drive-through orders only. Only delivery is possible during the curfew;
  • Bar activities are suspended. Microbreweries and distilleries, closed only for on-site eating or drinking;
  • Museums, zoos, aquariums, etc are open with measures in place;
  • Cinemas are open with measures in place. No more than 250 people are allowed per screen. Masks are mandatory and food and drink cannot be consumed in the halls. All patrons must remain seated. A distance of 2 metres must be maintained at all times between people who do not live at the same address; 
  • Individuals, groups of two and members of the same household are permitted to engage in indoor, contact-free activities limited to sports carried out in pools, skating rinks and facilities for playing tennis and badminton. These facilities must be supervised; 
  • Physical fitness centres (gyms) are closed; 
  • Contact-free sports and recreational activities are permitted outdoors in public places with members of the same household or in groups of up to 8 people from different households; 
  • Businesses, stores and boutiques are open. One person per household is recommended; 
  • Spas are open. The indoor areas of spas must close, except for pools and personal care services. Reservations are mandatory and a customer register must be kept. A distance of 2 metres must be maintained at all times between people who do not live at the same address; 
  • Personal and esthetic care is open.

–With files from CTV News Montreal’s Selena Ross.

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