Legault warns that difficult weeks are ahead as COVID-19 cases increase

Officials reported more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases, a new daily record.

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Quebec Prime Minister François Legault warned on Friday of the difficult weeks ahead, as officials reported more than 10,000 new COVID-19 cases, a new daily record.

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“The Omicron variant is more contagious than anything seen since the pandemic began,” Legault wrote in a Christmas message posted to Facebook. “I trust your judgment that you will follow the instructions and be careful.”

Legault called on Quebecers to turn to people isolated alone during the holidays or because of a positive COVID-19 test, and acknowledged the courage and commitment of health professionals.

“The coming weeks will be difficult,” Legault wrote. “It’s very important to continue our efforts and be together, even when we’re tired.”

Quebec tightened restrictions this week, reducing private gatherings to six people or two family bubbles from Boxing Day. Bars, cinemas, gyms and entertainment facilities were closed abruptly earlier this week, while restaurants were allowed to remain open at strictly 10pm at 50% capacity.

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On Friday, Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon extended pandemic aid to restaurants.

“The consequences of the new (health) measures for restaurants will be significant,” Fitzgibbon said in a statement. “We discussed with these representatives and it was clear that we needed to adjust our programs or deal with several closures.”

Quebec has also tightened rules on long-term care homes and retirement homes. Residents of care homes are not allowed to leave for private holidays and are only allowed to visit one person at a time, a maximum of two per day. Departures are still allowed in the accommodation of pensioners, but residents are allowed a maximum of four visitors per day during the holidays.

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