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Montreal heads into partial lockdown after coronavirus surge

Home visits will be banned, bars will be closed and dining at restaurants will be prohibited. Schools and salons, however, will remain open.
Pedestrians wear masks on a street in Montreal on Sept. 27, 2020.Graham Hughes / Canadian Press via AP

After a surge in coronavirus cases, Montreal will enter a partial shutdown for almost a month, officials said Monday.

Three regions in the Canadian province of Quebec — the greater Montreal area, Quebec City and the Chaudière-Appalaches region — will be placed under the government’s “red” alert system for 28 days beginning on Thursday, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said during a news conference Monday.

“The situation has become critical, the number of cases is rising,” Legault said. “If we want to limit the number of deaths, we must act strongly right now.”

People in “red” regions — the maximum level of the government’s four-tiered alert system — will not be allowed to have guests at home and are advised to limit social interactions by restricting indoor and outdoor gatherings.

Bars, museums, and movie theaters will close their doors, while restaurants will be limited to takeout services only. Places of worship will be capped at 25 at any given time.

Schools, hair salons, hotels, and other small businesses, however, will remain open.

The government will implement a financial relief plan to help struggling restaurants and bar owners, Legault said. People are also advised to maintain social distancing and limit their travel between regions.

On Sep. 8, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé said during a news conference that the regional alert system — color-coded by green, yellow, orange and red — was designed to measure “predictability” and the state of the pandemic in the province’s different regions.

“Red” was what health officials wanted to avoid, Dubé said at the time.

As of Tuesday afternoon, some remaining regions are still placed under the “green” or "yellow” status, but all of southern Quebec is colored in “orange” or “red.”

The new directive came after Quebec reported 750 new cases on Monday, including 245 in Montreal, according to the region’s Covid-19 tracking system.

Ontario, which sits west of Quebec, reported 700 new cases — a record for the most daily infections ever recorded in the province, according to Global News Canada.

Legault said that he hopes these new restrictions will curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“We give ourselves four weeks with these measures to see if we can stop the second wave,” Legault said. “We all have a role to play. Every action is important. We will keep fighting this virus together.”