Quebec will not use police to limit travel between regions as areas across the province downgrade to orange zones and ease certain COVID-19 rules.
Public Security Minister and Deputy Premier Geneviève Guilbault announced on Wednesday that police checkpoints will not be set up to prevent people from travelling when COVID-19 restrictions ease in six Quebec areas as of February 8.
Guilbault said that public health authorities “do not recommend” implementing roadblocks but still urged Quebecers to stick within their respective zones to limit the potential spread of the virus.
“At the moment, our police officers are already very, very busy with other measures,” she said.
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Guilbault says the province’s police forces are busy enforcing nightly curfew and said they’ve “had their hands full” to ensure that travellers are resecting hotel quarantines.
On Tuesday, Premier François Legault announced that six of Quebec’s 17 regions will be downgraded from red to orange zones, effective as of February 8. The other eleven zones will remain in red zones.
The six new orange zones — Gaspé-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord, and Nord-du-Québec — will be allowed similar COVID-19 measures that were in place last summer.
Orange zone private gatherings are still prohibited but restaurants, gyms, businesses, salons, theatres, cinemas, museums, and indoor sports will be permitted.
The curfew for orange zone regions is also pushed back to 9:30 pm, nightly.
Guilbault says Quebec’s orange zone regions represent 10% of the province’s overall population.
For red zone regions, including Montreal, new measures include the reopening of businesses, museums, salons, and libraries, and university and CEGEP students are permitted to return to physical classes.
Guillbault says public health still “strongly discourages” inter-regional travel and says Quebecers should only be going from red zones to orange zones (and vice versa) for “essential reasons and work.”
The deputy premier said people can still visit their chalets and cottages in orange zones, so long as they stay within their family bubble and not visit stores within that specific area.