Coronavirus: Quebec delays reopening schools, daycares and stores in Montreal to May 25

Quebec has once again revised its recovery plan and is pushing back reopening elementary schools, daycares and businesses in the Greater Montreal area as the coronavirus crisis deepens.

Premier François Legault said on Thursday that schools and daycares in the city and surrounding areas will open on May 25, one week later than previously announced. Businesses will also open on that day.

The delay comes as Montreal, which remains hard hit by the virus, faces high COVID-19 infection rates, according to Legault. He also cited a shortage of health-care workers in the area.

“We are seeing that the conditions to keep our initial reopening calendar in Montreal are not met for the moment,” he said.

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The postponed dates are not finalized, he stressed. Legault said the education and business sectors will only open in the Greater Montreal area if the right conditions are met.

“If and only if the situation improves,” he said.

Quebec reported an additional 121 deaths on Thursday, bringing the province’s death toll to 2,631.

The province’s total number of cases is now 35,238, an increase of 911 infections from the previous day. Montreal has more than 17,000 cases.

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While Quebec’s death and case numbers continue to rise on a daily basis, the provincial government has started to ease restrictions related to the coronavirus and officials say the pandemic isn’t affecting other regions to the same extent.

“The rest of Quebec is paradise,” said Horacio Arruda, the director of Quebec public health. “We’re living two different worlds.”

The staggered relaunch of elementary schools, daycares and businesses is still underway in other parts of the province.

Quebec boosts bonuses for health-care workers

The province also announced that it is temporarily topping off the salaries for some health-care workers in “hot zones.”

The bonus applies to employees in long-term care homes, private residences for seniors and hospitals where there are COVID-19 cases.

Legault said the health-care system is missing about 11,600 workers who are absent because they are sick or they are scared to come to work. He said the boost should help motivate health-care professionals to return to their jobs.

Treasury Board president Christian Dubé said the bonus would apply to about 100,000 workers.

Under the plan, a person who works full time, or 36.5 hours per week, would receive a premium of approximately $1,000 per month.

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— With files from the Canadian Press

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