Ease lockdown rules in Quebec regions with few COVID-19 cases, mayors say

Mayors in regions of Quebec where the COVID-19 infection rate is low are calling on health authorities to ease restrictions after they are set to expire Feb. 8.

Marc Parent, the mayor of Rimouski, Que., about 540 kilometres northeast of Montreal, said his region shouldn’t be treated like Montreal, which reports hundreds of new cases every day. Rimouski, by contrast, reported a single new case on Sunday, he said.

“When you look at the lower St-Lawrence, the Gaspe and the North Shore, we are in the neighbourhood of about 10 cases per 100,000 residents,” Parent said in an interview Monday. He said residents are looking for health orders to reflect the COVID situation in their region.

“The folks here understand the need for the curfew but they’re hoping very, very hard that as of (Feb. 8), the Quebec government will have an approach that will take into consideration this reality,” Parent said.

READ MORE: Quebec adds 1,203 new coronavirus cases, 43 deaths as hospitalizations continue to dip

Much of Quebec has been under some form of lockdown since October, when in-person dining at restaurants, bars, gyms and entertainment venues were closed. But in early January, following a rise in COVID-related hospitalizations, the premier ordered all non-essential businesses across the province to close and imposed an 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for virtually all Quebecers.

“The Quebec government must ease the rules based on the current pandemic situation,” Parent said.

Premier François Legault has said the newest health orders would be in effect until at least Feb. 8. New data indicates the daily infection rate and number of hospitalizations are trending downward. Quebec has reported a drop in hospitalizations for the past six reporting periods, representing 179 fewer patients in hospital.

Health officials reported 1,203 new cases of COVID-19 Monday and 43 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including 12 that occurred in the past 24 hours. The Health Department said hospitalizations dropped by six, to 1,321 and 217 patients were in intensive care, a decrease of two.

Click to play video 'Positive signs for Quebec COVID-19 cases numbers' 2:36 Positive signs for Quebec COVID-19 cases numbers

Positive signs for Quebec COVID-19 cases numbers

Fewer hospitalizations in recent days are starting to impact hospitalizations, Heath Minister Christian Dube said Monday. “Case data continue to be encouraging,” Dube said in a tweet announcing the daily count. “It shows that our efforts over the past few weeks are bearing fruit.”

Health officials said Monday 1,672 more people have recovered from COVID-19, for a total of 228,887, adding that Quebec has 16,424 active reported cases. Officials said 218,755 doses of vaccine had been administered as of Sunday, representing 2.56 per cent of the population that had been vaccinated.

Quebec has reported 254,836 infections and 9,521 deaths linked to the virus since the beginning of the pandemic.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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