Quebec nixes Christmas gatherings as second coronavirus wave gains steam

Quebec is prohibiting gatherings over the Christmas holiday season as novel coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations continue to mount in the province.

Premier François Legault announced the move Thursday, more than one week ahead of his self-imposed deadline to issue a decision for the holiday season.

“With the numbers we have, it’s unrealistic to think we will change the situation in time for Christmas,” he said. “We need to protect our nurses and our elderly.”

The cancellation of Christmas events affects all regions on red alert — which is most of the province. Quebecers who live alone, however, are allowed to see one other person during the holidays.

“I know we all want to see our family, but it’s not a very good idea,” he said.

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Earlier this week, Legault said the government was mulling its options as the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic gains steam.

In November, the province had issued a revised plan to allow Quebecers to see each other for a maximum of two gatherings from Dec. 24-27. In exchange, people had to voluntarily quarantine the week before and after as part of a “moral contract.”

“Unfortunately, the situation has deteriorated,” he said, adding that at the time he thought allowing Christmas to go ahead was manageable.

Yet, Legault said there has been a resurgence of the health crisis in the province. Quebec reported 1,470 new cases and 30 additional deaths Thursday after hitting a record high of new infections the previous day.

“If we continue in this direction, hospitals will start to overflow,” he said, adding health-care professionals are exhausted.

The caseload of the province, which has been hard hit by the health crisis, stands at 146,532. Since March, 7,155 people have died.

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