Premier Francois Legault: Businesses re-open Feb. 8 but keep curfew in place

(NEWSFIRST) Last Tuesday, all Quebec was impatient to hear Premier Legault the next step of measures.
Already media outlets were hinting that stores will reopen Monday February 8th.
As expected at 5PM Premier Legault accompanied by Quebec Public Health Director Horacio Arruda and Health Minister Christian Dubé announced that businesses, hair salons even museums and will be allowed to open on Feb. 8, but the curfew will remain in place across the province.
The curfew will stay in effect, banning non-essential travel between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., in 11 regions, including the Greater Region of Montreal.
The reopening of the province will be done gradually. CEGEP and university students will be allowed to slowly return to class, depending on the situation in each institution.
Also malls will be allowed to reopen across the province as well, but gathering in them will not be tolerated.
“We are going in the right direction, but we still have a lot of efforts to make in order to help our nursing staff and health-care staff. They have been on the front line for 11 months”, he said.
On the other hand, the ban on visiting others in their homes remains in effect as does the “work-from-home” order for those who are able.
Gyms will remain closed in the 11 red zones, as well as movie theatres.
“There is more heavy breathing in gyms, creating more of a risk of transmission”, explained Quebec Public Health Director Horacio Arruda.
Protecting the hospitals
Due to the Covid-19 situation at least 34 per cent of surgeries and other treatments are being delayed.
“The most effective measure we have right now is the curfew,” said Legault, attributing the drop in hospitalizations to the measure.
Legault said, even though hospital cases are declining, he is still worried about the situation there and he does not want to put more pressure on medical staff as they are already trying to catch up with delayed surgeries and treatments.
Once more vaccines are delivered to Quebec’s seniors, the risk of hospitalization goes down for those under a certain age, Arruda explained.
Lifting the curfew and its risks
Based on government officials, -nearly a month after the 8 p.m. curfew was imposed and more than six weeks after non-essential stores were ordered closed- the decline of cases and hospitalizations has proven the effectiveness of the curfew. “In fact, hospitalizations decreased by 14% in the last 7 days” said Public Health Minister Christian Dubé.
A recent study by Quebec’s public health institute, the INSPQ, found that the curfew had succeeded in reducing the number of home visits by half, though experts say there are other factors at play.
Legault did not indicate when the curfew will be lifted. He hinted though that, a reassessment will be done of the new measures and a news conference will be held on February 22 on the subject.
There are not going to be any roadblocks or fines given, but Legault said he is strongly encouraging people to stay in their own region rather than heading out to other areas.
If people do go out to cottages, they need to stay within their immediate family bubble rather than gathering with other family members or families, he said.
Many epidemiologists believe that the closure of retailers kept more people at home, away from potential contacts but with the reopening of retailers and malls the situation may change to worse if the rate of transmission once again increases.
More money for businesses
Early Wednesday morning, February 3rd, Quebec Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon, announced that all businesses that closed due to the pandemic they will be able to obtain a reimbursement of their fix expenses during the reopening period.
For businesses closed for 90 days or less, a maximum additional amount payable is $15 000 per establishment. The additional support must cover the fixed expenses disbursed in the month following the reopening of the businesses targeted.
For businesses closed for a period of more than 90 days, the maximum additional amount payable corresponds to $30 000 per establishment, i.e., $15 000 per month. The additional support must cover the fixed expenses disbursed in the two months following the reopening of the businesses targeted.
Since the closure order has been extended until February 7, the AERAM section may apply to the months of October, November, and December 2020 and to the months of January and February 2021. As the enterprise was closed for more than 90 days, the enhancement for the resumption of its activities will apply for the months of March and April.