Skip to main content

Quebec Premier Francois Legault during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic, May 11, 2020 at the legislature in Quebec City.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

Premier Francois Legault is trying to keep his province united as data increasingly indicates the COVID-19 pandemic is under control across Quebec – except for in the greater Montreal area, the epicentre of the disease outbreak in Canada.

And as the province gradually reopens following weeks of shutdowns to slow the spread of the virus, Legault is pushing back against calls to isolate Montreal from the rest of Quebec.

“I heard a lot, over the weekend, from people who don’t live in greater Montreal, who are afraid that people from Montreal will come to their region,” Legault told reporters in Quebec City Monday.

Story continues below advertisement

Quebec cautiously reopens some elementary schools and daycares after coronavirus shutdowns

As Quebec schools open, researchers tackle a big unknown: What role do children play in the spread of COVID-19?

He said if people stay two metres apart from each other, “there is no danger that someone from Montreal comes and infects you.”

“I don’t want Quebecers to start fighting with one another and for there to be divisions between Montreal and the rest of Quebec … We are one people.”

Legault said the COVID-19 situation in Montreal remains fragile and a reopening of retail stores, schools and daycares in the city planned for May 25 could be further delayed. But the construction and manufacturing sectors did open in Montreal as planned Monday, as they did across Quebec.

Elementary schools and daycares also reopened outside the greater Montreal area. Road barricades that had limited access to several parts of Quebec including the Outaouais and Saguenay regions were also lifted Monday.

Montreal La Presse reported that people in regions across the province had started petitions calling on Montrealers to be barred from visiting now that barriers have been lifted. Several elected officials had also made their dissent against the government’s decision known.

Legault stayed firm Monday but promised that if the infection rate in Montreal surges, he and public health officials would reconsider their decisions.

Concern about reopening Montreal was heightened by the publication late Friday of data from Quebec’s public health institute, known as the INSPQ. Its projections indicated deaths could soar to 150 a day in the greater Montreal area if lockdown measures are lifted.

Story continues below advertisement

“In greater Montreal, a deconfinement in the current epidemiological situation could lead to a rapid increase in hospitalizations and deaths,” the institute said.

Quebec reported an additional 85 deaths from COVID-19 on Monday, bringing the provincial total to 3,013. Horacio Arruda, director of public health, said 82 of those deaths occurred in the greater Montreal area, primarily in long-term care homes.

Legault and Arruda were questioned about why the projections from the statistical bureau came out late on a Friday afternoon. Arruda had held a news conference in Montreal earlier in the day and didn’t mention the pessimistic forecast.

Arruda insisted his recommendations to the government are being heeded and he isn’t being muzzled. “To date, I have exercised my role in public health in a completely free manner,” he said.

Legault added that the statistical institute’s projections showed a worst-case scenario if the city opened up retail stores, schools and daycares – something the province has pushed back until at least May 25.

“We still have two weeks in front of us, and if the situation is not getting better in the next two weeks, we’ll postpone the opening of May the 25th,” Legault said.

Story continues below advertisement

“So, it means that the scenario that was shown by INSPQ will never happen. It was only a scenario if we decide to open, which is not the case.”

The total number of COVID-19 cases rose by 748 from the previous day, to 38,469. Of those cases, 9,703 are classified as recovered. Montreal has 19,492 confirmed cases of the virus and 1,919 deaths.

Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.

Coronavirus information
Coronavirus information
The Zero Canada Project provides resources to help you manage your health, your finances and your family life as Canada reopens.
Visit the hub

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies