Quebec announced on Dec. 20 that the province is bringing back tougher new COVID-19 measures in efforts to curb an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
In a virtual press conference, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube called the situation “critical” and announced the province will close bars, movie theatres, and other entertainment venues as of 5 p.m. today, while restaurants are permitted to operate at a reduced capacity until 10 p.m.
“With the increase of cases and hospitalizations, we must put in place new measures,” Dube said.
“I know the situation is tough, but now is the time again not to get discouraged, but to be strong.”
Elementary and high schools will close early for the holidays after today, with in-person learning scheduled to resume on Jan. 10. There will also be no spectators permitted at sporting events, while gyms and spas will shutter early on Dec. 20.
The new measures came hours after another round of previously announced measures took effect on Dec. 20, requiring bars, restaurants, retail stores, places of worship, essential public activities, and entertainment venues to operate at 50 percent reduced capacity.
Working from home—which before was previously “strongly recommended” by the authorities—is now made mandatory.
The Quebec government will also pause all public activities for the minister, including news conferences that are not related to COVID-19.
There are 26,143 active cases according to the province’s public health institute, with 397 hospitalizations and 82 COVID-19 patients in intensive care.
The Canadian Press contributed to this report.