The Quebec government will reconsider keeping bars open if the province continues to see an upward trend of new daily COVID-19 cases, Premier François Legault said Thursday.
He told reporters that if authorities need to confine Quebeckers once again, they will close off specific regions of the province or smaller areas within regions as opposed to locking down the entire population.
Mr. Legault was reacting to news that health authorities reported 187 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, representing a significant jump compared to a few weeks ago when the province was reporting fewer than 100 cases a day.
“Over the past two weeks we’ve seen an increase in confirmed cases,” Mr. Legault said in St-Raymond, about 60 kilometres west of Quebec City. “We have to be prudent.”
He said there are no immediate plans to close any bars in light of an outbreak at a Quebec City bar that has been connected to nearly 50 recent cases of COVID-19.
Mr. Legault said if the number of new daily cases continues to increase, authorities will revisit recent decisions to open bars and to allow indoor public gatherings of up to 250 people.
“Do we have to go back on those decisions? For now, no, but eventually we can’t exclude that.”
Mr. Legault said the province’s testing capability has increased and health officials are able to better detect where infections are occurring. If need be, he said, authorities will close off specific territories.
“We will do tests to identity the territory where we have outbreaks,” he said. “And if ever – and we’re not there yet – we need to confine people, we’ll go by region and subregion.”
The province also reported Thursday three additional deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus.
Quebec has had a total of 62,933 COVID-19 cases and 5,767 deaths linked to the virus since the pandemic began.
Hospitalizations decreased by nine compared with the prior day, for a total of 100. Of those patients, 20 are in intensive care.
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