New COVID-19 restrictions to be announced Tuesday, says Premier François Legault

Update: After Christmas, Quebec will shut down non-essential businesses for 2 weeks

Elementary and high schools are closing for the Christmas holiday period this week, and it appears multiple businesses will soon follow suit.

In an interview with Radio-Canada’s Le Téléjournal on Monday, Premier François Legault said he will announce new measures on Tuesday to clamp down on businesses.

“You saw [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel make announcements this weekend relative to stores. I’ve drawn a lot inspiration from Mrs. Merkel since the pandemic began in March … so we will announce it [Tuesday] afternoon, we’re going to have to tighten restrictions on businesses. We will have to close them for a time. There are too many contacts, and we have to reduce them,” he said in a wide-ranging interview, which airs at 5 p.m. on RDI.

He didn’t specify which businesses, or which sectors of the economy, but Legault said something needs to be done to stem the worrying increase in hospitalizations since the last week of November.

The German government announced over the weekend it would be closing all ‘non-essential’ businesses from Wednesday until Jan. 10. If Quebec copies Merkel’s plan, that would mean the only businesses that would be allowed to remain open are grocery stores, banks, pharmacies and a handful of others.

Legault also expressed surprise at reports some health system staff are reticent about accepting the newly-arrived COVID-19 vaccine.

“It’s like a flu vaccine, there’s nothing dramatic about it,” he said. “It prevents you from catching COVID, which has killed more than 7,000 people.”

Though the announcement of tighter restriction will doubtless attract attention, at least one infectious diseases expert says it’s likely too little, too late.

“It’s too late for minor measures … we’re basically where we were last spring and to me the only answer right now, today, is to put severe restrictions into place,” Dr. Don Sheppard, chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at McGill and an adviser to the federal COVID-19 therapeutics task force, told Tout un matin.

He added a two-week “circuit-breaker” lock-down would be of little use, saying “it has to be, at minimum, four weeks.”

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