Montreal, Laval to stay as COVID-19 red zones as Quebec begins to reopen

Quebec is on its way to slowly reopening but Montreal and Laval will remain designated red zones under the province’s COVID-19 colour-coded scale until at least June 7.

But the nightly curfew will be lifted, outdoor dining spaces at restaurants will open and small outdoor gatherings for up to eight people will go ahead as planned across the province starting Friday.

“The numbers are good, the trend is good,” Premier François Legault told reporters Tuesday.

The situation is improving across Quebec, he said, but the government decided to keep Montreal and neighbouring Laval on its highest alert level after talking with public health authorities.

In the Chaudière-Appalaches, Estrie and Bas-Saint-Laurent regions, several municipalities will remain red while the rest of the region moves to orange.

READ MORE: Quebec kids 12 and older can now book to get their COVID-19 vaccine shot

The red zone designation means more restrictive measures will remain in effect for at least another two weeks. This means students in grades 9,10 and 11 in high schools will still alternate between in-person and distant learning.

Meanwhile, the Capitale-Nationale, Montérégie, Laurentians, Lanaudière and Outaouais regions will be bumped down to orange starting next Monday.

“We’re moving forward with our gradual reopening plan,” Legault said.

In those areas, high schools will fully move back to in-class learning. Gyms and indoor dining rooms of restaurants will also be able to reopen — but with rules designed to limit the spread of COVID-19 in place.

Quebec posted its lowest daily tally of cases Tuesday in more than six months, with 346 new infections. Six additional deaths were recorded and hospitalizations dropped.

The province also marked a milestone with more than five million doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered to date. Legault says he’s proud of the response to the immunization campaign, which is now open to kids 12 and older.

“Quebecers are answering the call,” he said.

READ MORE: As sales plummet, souvenir shop owners hope tourists return to Montreal

Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said the province will also announce a plan to move up appointments for second vaccine doses on Thursday.

He said people will be able to change their appointments for their booster online. Quebec has been giving people an appointment to receive their second dose when they receive a first dose at one of the province’s vaccination sites.

“Our goal, in summary, is to have everyone vaccinated by Aug. 31,” Dubé said.

With files from The Canadian Press

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