Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Thursday, November 19, 2020. Ontario has entered the second wave of coronavirus infections. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Quebec proposes ‘moral contract’ for holidays; provinces toughen restrictions

Quebec proposes ‘moral contract’ for holidays; provinces toughen restrictions

Quebec’s premier has proposed a “moral contract” that would allow for holiday get-togethers, while Manitoba further tightened COVID-19 restrictions and Ontario’s premier hinted tougher measures are coming.

Francois Legault said Thursday that there can be gatherings of 10 people between Dec. 24 to 27 in Quebec, provided the province’s infection and hospitalization numbers don’t get out of control before then. He urged people to limit their contacts with others for a week before and a week after that period.

“We’ll need strength to get through this pandemic and to find this strength, we need our families,” he said.

The proposal calls for schools to be shut for an extended period around the holidays, but classes will be taught remotely during those extra days. Schools are to close on Dec. 17, a few days earlier than planned. Primary schools are to return as planned between Jan. 5-6, while secondary schools would return Jan. 11.

Restrictions on gyms, restaurants and other businesses in hard-hit areas have also been extended to Jan. 11.

Quebec recorded 1,207 positive tests in its update Thursday. There were 34 new deaths, including seven in the past 24 hours.

There are 651 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in that province, along with 101 in intensive care.

Manitoba, which has the highest per capita infection rate in Canada, announced it’s tightening the rules for social gatherings and shopping.

“COVID-19 case numbers are very concerning, to put it mildly,” Premier Brian Pallister said Thursday as the province reported 475 new infections and eight more deaths.

“They continue to cause significant strain on our health-care system.”

Over the past five days in Manitoba, 14 per cent of COVID-19 tests have come back positive.

Starting Friday, people will no longer be allowed to have visitors in their home unless they are providing supports such as child care, tutoring or health services. Anyone who lives alone can have one visitor over to socialize.

Stores can only sell essential items inside and must close off sections that offer non-essential goods such as consumer electronics. Capacity in big-box stores will be limited to 25 per cent of capacity or 250 people, whichever is less.

A surge in cases in British Columbia is behind provincewide restrictions announced Thursday as the provincial health officer made it mandatory to wear masks in public spaces. Social interactions will also be under new restrictions until Dec. 7.

Dr. Bonnie Henry earlier imposed restrictions on social gatherings in areas covered by the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal health authorities, but says COVID-19 is spreading to other places and the order will now be provincewide.

That means all worship services and community and social events will be suspended, along with high-intensity group fitness, such as interval training, hot yoga and spin classes. There are exceptions for baptisms, weddings and funerals, but they are limited to 10 people.

Henry is also asking people to curtail non-essential travel.

Ontario is expected to announce new restrictions for hard-hit areas in Toronto and surrounding regions on Friday, but Premier Doug Ford had no details on Thursday when his cabinet was set to discuss recommendations from public health officials.

“As it’s looking, these measures — they will have to be tough in the hardest-hit areas,” he said.

“We’re seeing concerning trends. Our hospital ICUs are in jeopardy. Our long-term care homes are at risk. We have some difficult but necessary decisions to make.”

Ontario had 1,210 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, along with 28 new deaths from the virus. There are 526 in hospital, including 88 on ventilators.

There are 150 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, according to the Ontario Hospital Association. The Ontario government’s medical advisers have said that’s the threshold at which hospitals would need to cancel surgeries.

In the North, Nunavut, which recorded its first COVID-19 case less than two weeks ago, reported four new infections for a total of 74.

The territory started a two-week lockdown Wednesday of non-essential businesses, schools and other services.

Yukon, which has 26 confirmed cases, is re-imposing a two-week isolation period for most people entering the territory starting Friday.

Alberta reported a record 1,105 new cases in its Thursday update along with eight more deaths. There are 284 people in hospital, including 61 in intensive care.

Health officials in Saskatchewan reported 98 new infections Thursday, but said weather and other issues meant some samples didn’t arrive at the lab in time to be reflected in the daily count.

Meanwhile, the Canadian leading a United Nations road map for COVID-19 recovery said much human progress has been eroded by the pandemic and that now is the time to make lasting changes.

The road map outlines 25 research priorities having to do with health, social protection, economic recovery, macroeconomic responses, multilateral collaboration and social cohesion.

“This pandemic has been a grand revealer of the many challenges that our world faced before the pandemic, and of course, we’re going to face afterwards,” said Steven Hoffman, the scientific director of the Institute of Population and Public Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

He noted 71 million people have been pushed into poverty in 2020, 90 per cent of students were out of school at some point and that rates of domestic violence have increased by 30 per cent in some countries.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 19, 2020.

Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau leaves the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Conservatives push for parliamentary committee study into failed vaccine deal

OTTAWA — The federal Conservatives are calling for a parliamentary committee to… Continue reading

(Red Deer Advocate file photo).
Registrations for Red Deer rec programs delayed

Sign-up for sports and culture programs starts Jan. 12

(Red Deer Advocate file photo).
Red Deer County seeks public feedback on draft budget

Minimal impact on ratepayers was the goal

(Advocate file photo).
RDC’s The Nutcracker is being videotaped for online viewing

COVID-19 presents challenges for live performance

Trail RCMP report three impaired driving investigations. Photo: Black Press file
New drunk driving rules allow police to impose tougher penalties immediately

New impaired driving regulations started on Tuesday

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Toronto police respond to an incident at St. Michael’s College School, in Toronto, Nov. 19, 2018. The trial of a teen accused of sexually assaulting two students at a prestigious Toronto high school is set to resume today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Trial resumes for teen accused in St. Michael’s College School sex assault case

Defence lawyers for a teen accused of sexually assaulting two students at… Continue reading

Minister of Health Patty Hajdu responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. The Trump administration is keeping silent about Canada blocking its plan to import prescription drugs from north of the border. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trump admin silent after Hajdu pushes back on U.S. plan to raid Canada’s drug cabinet

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration is keeping silent about Canada blocking… Continue reading

Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume, right, speaks at the inauguration of a memorial to the 2017 mosque shooting, Tuesday, December 1, 2020 in Quebec City. From the left, Luce Pelletier, artist who designed the memorial, MP Joel Lightbound, Boufeldja Benabdallah, and MNA Joelle Boutin.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot
Quebec City’s memorial to 2017 mosque shooting victims symbolizes defeat of hatred

Quebec City has inaugurated a memorial to the victims of the 2017… Continue reading

A scene from last year’s Light the Night fundraiser at the Stettler Town and Country Museum. This year’s rendition is on a drive-through basis only, but it still promises to be a not-to-be-missed seasonal highlight. (Independent file photo)
Stettler Town and Country Museum hosts ‘Light the Night’

This year’s rendition is drive-through only, but will still prove to be a dazzling display

Alberta restaurants face new regulations aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19, Photo from Trolley 5 Brewery and Restaurant Facebook page
Restaurants working under new restrictions Central Alberta

Starting last Friday, any area in the province with more than 50… Continue reading

Opinion piece
Opinion: A down payment on recovery, details to come

Just to be clear: Justin Trudeau’s government has not acquired the ability… Continue reading

(Black Press File Photo)
Rimbey woman gathering Christmas gifts for seniors at Valleyview Manor

Margaret Tanasiuk says she doesn’t want anyone to feel forgotten on Christmas morning

Mike Miltimore, seen in Kamloops, B.C., in an undated handout photo, says the Gretsch electric guitar that a woman brought into his store is from 1955 and similar to one played by country music legend Chet Atkins before he developed his signature series of guitars. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Mike Miltimore
Guitar made in 1950s worth more than B.C. family imagined

KAMLOOPS, B.C. — When Renee Latheur decided to take an old guitar… Continue reading

Most Read