National Post (Latest Edition)

In Quebec, ‘we must act strongly now’

- PAOLA LORIGGIO

The Quebec government moved three regions including greater Montreal and Quebec City to its highest COVID-19 alert level, imposing new restrictio­ns on residents and businesses as cases climb.

Premier Francois Legault said in Montreal the measures will take effect at midnight on Oct. 1 and remain in place for 28 days.

He said that under the new alert level, bars, concert halls, cinemas, museums and libraries in the affected regions will close while restaurant­s will be limited to takeout. Shops and schools will remain open.

“The situation has become critical,” Legault said. “The number of cases is rising. If we don’t want our hospitals to be submerged and if we want to limit the number of deaths, we must act strongly right now.”

The new rules prohibit private gatherings indoors and outdoors and specify that people cannot have any visitors at their homes from another address — with exceptions for a caregiver or service provider.

In addition to Montreal and the provincial capital region, the red alert level will also apply to Chaudiere- Appalaches, south of Quebec City.

Health Minister Christian Dube had said during a television appearance Sunday night that the red alert level was coming soon for Montreal and Quebec City. “We’re at that point, and we have to act.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford meanwhile said the 700 new cases reported in Ontario — the highest daily increase since the start of the health crisis — were “deeply concerning” and warned this round of the pandemic could hit harder than the first.

“We know that this wave will be more complicate­d, more complex,” he said, again entreating residents to follow public health guidelines meant to help contain the spread of the virus.

The public’s willingnes­s to adhere to those guidelines will determine if this is “a wave or a tsunami,” he said.

Most of the new cases in Ontario are in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa.

Ford said Monday that “everything is on the table” when it comes to flattening this second curve, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health said the province would take a “surgical” approach in addressing mounting cases in a few regions.

Ontario and Quebec have been the hardest hit by COVID-19, representi­ng close to 80 per cent of all cases in Canada.

Manitoba reported 39 new COVID- 19 cases, including 22 in the Winnipeg region where numbers have spiked in recent weeks, prompting tighter restrictio­ns that took effect Monday. Masks are now mandatory in indoor public areas in the capital area and public gatherings have been capped at 10 people.

Seven cases were in a First Nations community in northern Manitoba. They were all family members of a woman who had returned from receiving medical care in Winnipeg.

At one point in July, Manitoba was down to one known active COVID-19 case, but numbers have increased sharply since then and the latest surge has been concentrat­ed in Winnipeg.

The province’s chief public health officer said Monday there will be guidelines issued soon for Halloween, and warned the celebratio­n will feel different from previous years.

“If we’re going to have any sense of Halloween, we’re going to have to do it in a way that limits many, many contacts,” Dr. Brent Roussin said.

Meanwhile, in Western Canada outbreaks have forced the closure of hospitals, schools.

In southeast Saskatchew­an an RCMP detachment and high school have closed because of COVID-19.

Mounties say a front- line officer at its Yorkton detachment has Covid-19 and is isolating, with 14 other officers and six civilian employees in isolation as a precaution.

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