Quebec premier says COVID-19 vaccine is key to ‘great summer’ as province lifts some restrictions

Quebec is continuing to gradually lift restrictions in some regions that have been hard hit by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as new cases drop in the province.

Premier François Legault announced the decision Tuesday, saying high schools in the Quebec City area will physically reopen starting next week.

In the provincial capital, curfew will also be pushed from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. as of next Monday. Non-essential businesses will also be allowed to reopen.

The Outaouais region, meanwhile, will see elementary school students return to class next week. Other measures remain in place, except in the Gatineau and Papineau areas.

“The situation is improving when we look at the number of cases, but it remains very fragile,” Legault said.

READ MORE: Quebec unveils drive-thru vaccination site at Montreal airport

Elementary schools will also reopen in only a few parts of the Beauce region, where infection rates remain high. The Abitibi-Témiscamingue region will be downgraded from orange to yellow in the province’s colour-coded pandemic alert system.

Yet, Legault also said the situation has worsened in the Granit regional municipality in the Eastern Townships. The government is closing non-essential businesses, schools and advancing the curfew in that area.

As the hot summer months loom, officials stressed that a combination of gradually loosening public health measures and ramping up immunization will play a key role in getting “getting closer to normal lives.”

“The vaccine is essential to having a great summer,” Legault said “So, we must continue all our efforts.”

Health Minister Christian Dubé described May as “vaccination month” and encouraged eligible Quebecers to register for their shots.

The latest update comes as Quebec reported its lowest daily tally of new infections in nearly six weeks Tuesday with 797 new cases.

The province reported 16 new pandemic-related deaths, including three in the past 24 hours. Authorities say 12 of the fatalities occurred between April 27 and May 2, while one death took place before April 27.

READ MORE: Job losses in Quebec during pandemic affected women more than men: report

Another 52,141 doses were administered during province’s vaccination rollout. The campaign has seen more than 3.3 million shots given to date.

Hospitalizations related to the novel coronavirus were on the rise once again. There are 594 patients, a rise of six from the previous day. Of them, four more people are in intensive care units for a total of 155.

When it comes to screening, the latest information shows 25,133 tests were given Sunday.

The caseload has reached 353,475 while the health crisis has killed 10,959 Quebecers to date. The tally was amended Tuesday after an investigation found a death that was previously reported was not related to the virus.

Recoveries, meanwhile, have topped 333,000.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Convincing enough Quebecers to get vaccinated could prove challenging' 1:45 COVID-19: Convincing enough Quebecers to get vaccinated could prove challenging

COVID-19: Convincing enough Quebecers to get vaccinated could prove challenging

With files from The Canadian Press

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