It’s hard to believe that Quebec’s first COVID-19 lockdowns came into effect two years ago.
Thinking back, it would’ve been hard for our former selves to accept that restrictions would still be in place 24 months later. But, here we are — two curfews and three vaccines later.
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But with the future looking hopeful and the end of the pandemic in sight, let’s take a look back at the government’s response during the first month of the pandemic.
- March 3 — Quebec’s first COVID-19 patient is transferred to Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital. They are released the next day.
- March 12 — The case count climbs to 17 and Premier François Legault bans indoor gatherings of more than 250 people. Government workers, health care professionals, and teachers returning from international travel must now self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival.
- March 13 — Following the announcement of restrictions on public gatherings, a chain reaction of cancellations of public events and facilities begins to emerge province-wide.
- March 14 — Legault officially declares a public health emergency, lasting at least ten days. This measure grants him powers under the Public Health Act to enforce mitigation measures. He also announces that the province will prohibit visits to hospitals and long-term care facilities. Citizens over the age of 70 should avoid leaving their homes.
- March 15 — The government orders the closure of various recreational and entertainment venues, including bars, cinemas, gyms, pools, and ski hills. Restaurants were also ordered to reduce their capacity by half and enforce physical distancing. The Mayor of Montreal, Valérie Plante, dispatches employees to Montréal–Trudeau International Airport to advise travellers arriving from international destinations to self-isolate for two weeks.
- March 19 — It is announced that Quebec residents in isolation or quarantine who are not covered by any benefits may apply for $573 per week of financial aid for a maximum of two weeks. The government also announces that it will extend the income tax filing deadline, and invest $2.5 billion into companies suffering financial problems due to the pandemic. Quebec citizens are asked not to travel between regions.
- March 20 — The government extends Quebec’s public health emergency for at least 10 more days. Indoor gatherings are prohibited and outdoor gatherings are allowed as long as a distance of two metres is maintained between participants.
- March 21 — The Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) announces that its stores will begin closing on Sundays.
- March 22 — The Quebec government announces the closure of all shopping malls and hair and beauty salons. Grocery stores, pharmacies, and SAQ stores remain open. All restaurants must close dining-room service, while take-out service can continue. Schools and daycares are to remain closed until at least May 1.
- March 23 — Premier Legault orders the closure of all non-essential businesses beginning at midnight on March 24.
- March 28 — Travel within the province is restricted. Only essential travel into Bas-Saint-Laurent, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord, Nord-du-Québec, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Nunavik, and Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James is permitted. Police checkpoints are also announced to enforce this measure.
- March 29 — The province’s state of emergency is extended.
- March 31 — Legault orders all essential businesses (excluding restaurants, gas stations, and dépanneurs) to close on Sundays until further notice in order to provide a day of rest for employees.