The Quebec government will begin to ease restrictions on travel between its regions next week as the province moves forward with its recovery strategy during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault announced the staggered measure during the daily briefing on Wednesday, saying it can be adjusted based on the progression of the virus.
“We are progressing but it isn’t time to declare a victory,” she said, adding that Quebec still has a far way to go.
Police checkpoints will be lifted gradually in regions beginning next Monday, starting with the Laurentians, Lanaudière and Chaudière-Appalaches.
The slow progression of removing roadblocks will continue on May 11 in Abitibi, La Tuque, Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean and parts of Outaouais.
Guilbault said the regions of Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie, Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Charlevoix and the Côte-Nord will follow suit on May 19.
Travel restrictions will remain in place for several regions, including Nunavik and Gatineau, for now.
“We can’t give you a date today because we are still evaluating the situation,” Guilbault said.
The province initially clamped down and closed off regions outside of Montreal to non-essential travel in early April. The measure was introduced as a way to contain the spread of the virus.
However, Guilbault stressed that people should not be travelling between regions if they can avoid it.
The scaling back on traffic controls comes as the province prepares to reopen parts of its education and economic sectors over the month of May.
Guilbault said that Quebecers have been exemplary when it comes to following directives, but she warns that if they relax on social-distancing measures, it could delay the province’s relaunch plans.
“All of this is possible thanks to our discipline,” she said.
In Quebec, there are 26,594 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Guilbault said 1,648 people are in hospital and 222 of them are in intensive care.
As of Wednesday, the respiratory illness has killed 79 more people, bringing the province’s death toll to 1,762.
— With files from the Canadian Press
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