Photo: Alexander Shields The Duty
Schools, childcare facilities, shops, areas, sports activities: the déconfinement du Québec takes on a shape more and more concrete… but it is not always clear between what the government and what they say to the press releases and orders. Decryption.
The regions are-they really re-opened?
The quick answer: yes. But this is not always clear in government communications. On 29 April, the deputy prime minister, Genevieve Guilbault, announced a plan to “re-opening gradual regions”. With the exception of some more remote areas, the police roadblocks have thus been raised to the input and the output of the regions that had been “closed” to help slow the spread of the virus.
Except that, this same day, Ms. Guilbault pointed out that, for “everything that is non-essential […], travel back in Quebec, it is prohibited, this is not possible”. The official communications of the government say about it is “applied to any person, avoid the move from one region to the other, except in cases of necessity,” which is defined as a medical or professional.
Last week, the minister for Education, Isabelle Charest, also said that “the practice of sport is not a reason to travel non-essential between the regions”. However, the ministry of Health and social Services (DHSS), which oversees the decrees and orders adopted during the pandemic, indicates that it is “recommended” not to move without a good reason. However, this is not “prohibited”, says the spokesman, Robert Maranda.
Technically, therefore, there is no legal constraint to move in all the open areas of Quebec, and a police officer could not stop someone to enter? “Exactly,” responds Mr. Maranda.
It remains to this day the four regions where access is limited to: the Côte-Nord, in the Nord-du-Québec, Nunavik and Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James. The police have the discretion to deny access to these areas. The national director of public health, Horacio Arruda, said may 12 that those who want to move — for example to go to the cottage — should do all their shopping close to their home and do not circulate in the community that they visit.
Biking and running was banned?
The minister Isabelle Charest, who is also responsible for sport and recreation, has announced on may 13, a “beginning of déconfinement of the sport”. The government releases announcing that “from 20 may,” “will be permitted the recreation sports individual or both, without physical contact, in free practice, in the places of practice outside, with no access or minimal access to the toilet block”.
Among these activities will be permitted as of may 20, we note in particular the running and cycling… that have never been prohibited — in Montreal, the season of the Bixi (bike self-service) is launched since more than a month.
So why announce the “déconfinement” of activities that were not confined? “In fact, these outdoor sporting activities were not formally prohibited, but we encourage people to stay at home and take out the least possible, answers Robert Maranda, DHSS. Now, the government encourages the population to practice sports activities individual, respecting social distancing.”
Gather at two metres, or not?
“Dr. Arruda told me that, in the coming days, we should be able to have a clearer indication on the rallies”, said the prime minister Legault Monday.
Mr. Arruda has been referred to the dissemination of a kind of manual of the perfect small gathering, at the dawn of the return of the beautiful days and in the context of a déconfinement progressive. Different “models” to be together in the safest way possible will be suggested, he said: “The model of the bubble family, the model of friends will always be unique, the pattern where we can change people to not only see only friends”… This is because the current rules remain fuzzy for many… including for the DHSS, who said Tuesday the Duty that “the gatherings [outside] are not allowed”.
What remains banned to this day, the raising of interiors. A rally is defined as “the meeting of two or more persons who do not reside at the same address”. For gatherings outside, the decree adopted by Québec showed up to Tuesday that they were prohibited… except if “a minimum distance of two metres is maintained between the persons gathered”.
On Wednesday, the government noted, however, that outdoor gatherings are now permitted, provided they adhere to the rules of social distancing, but also be limited to 10 individuals from a maximum of three “households,” said Dr. Arruda.
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