The city of Montreal declared a state of emergency on Dec. 21, while Quebec and several other provinces are once against tightening COVID-19 restrictions in efforts to address the spread of the Omicron variant.
Following Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé’s Dec. 20 announcement of tougher COVID-19 measures, the largest city in the province announced a state of emergency, which would grant authorities additional power to access resources.
“With the announcement made by Quebec yesterday, the city is giving itself the means to protect its essential workers while maintaining public services,” Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said in a virtual news conference on Dec. 21.
“We will be able now, with the state of emergency, to be proactive. We are more in charge, if I can say, in some decisions,” Plante said.
Montreal lifted its previous 17-month state of emergency on Aug. 27.
“I know the situation is difficult, but we’ve lived through it before and we know we can get through it again,” Plante said.
When asked if Quebec would bring back a curfew, Plante said she had not yet discussed the possibility with her provincial counterpart, adding that if the government does reinstate such restrictions, it needs to consider the welfare of homeless people who would be made “most vulnerable.”
Other provinces followed suit in announcing tougher COVID-19 restrictions on Dec. 21.
B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said among new restrictions the province will close bars and nightclubs and ban organized indoor gatherings, such as weddings and holiday parties, of any size. During the period of enhanced restrictions—from Dec. 23 to Jan. 18—B.C. residents are permitted to host at their home one other household or 10 guests, provided everyone is vaccinated.
In New Brunswick, all regions will enter “Level 2” in the province’s 3-tiered alert system starting Dec. 27, Premier Blaine Higgs announced in a virtual press conference accompanied by Jennifer Russell, the province’s chief medical officer of health.
“This will be the second holiday season of the COVID-19 global pandemic, and I am sure that no one is happy to find that we’re here today again working towards containing and decreasing the spread of COVID-19,” Russell said.
Citing a high infection rate in Quebec, Nova Scotia, and neighbouring U.S. regions, Russell said the province will “likely” experience an explosion of cases as well, due to the fast-spreading nature of the Omicron variant.
“This has not happened here yet, but it will likely happen—and it’s not ‘if,’ it’s ‘when’—and it is important that all New Brunswickers are prepared for this,” she said.
Nova Scotia also introduced stronger public health rules on Dec. 21, including tighter social gathering limits for both indoors and outdoors, and the cancellation of in-person events such as festivals, sports activities, and arts or cultural performances.
The tighter pandemic measures in Nova Scotia will take effect at 6 a.m. on Dec. 22 and will last until Jan. 12.
“We need further restrictions to ensure everyone slows down, reins in their socializing, and limits opportunities for the virus to spread,” Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said during an online news conference on Dec. 21.
“It may mean a smaller Christmas dinner than you’d planned, but it’s better to be small and safe.”