Health Minister Christian Dubé appealed to Quebecers to cancel all their plans to gather with friends and family over the next few weeks — including Thanksgiving dinner.
He said the next few weeks will be key in preventing the level of shutdowns due to COVID-19 that were seen in the spring.
“We ask all Quebecers, regardless of colour code in their region, to restrict their public gatherings. This is very important,” he said, referring to the alert system that the province is now using to determine the severity of the spread of the virus.
He said cancelling Thanksgiving plans would give Quebecers a shot at having “a nice Christmas.”
One new region, MRC Avignon in the Gaspésie, moved into the yellow “pre-alert” stage Thursday. Montreal, Quebec City and Laval are already in the orange stage.
WATCH | Explaining Quebec’s colour-coded COVID-19 alert system:
Even though all Quebecers are permitted to gather in small numbers under the alert levels that are currently active, Dubé asked people to avoid meeting with those who do not live in the same household.
With schools and businesses open, Dubé said some semblance of normal life has returned. But at the same time, he said there are about 300 active outbreaks across the province.
With the virus being transmitted in the community, Dubé said exposing health-care workers to illness is perhaps his greatest worry as cases continue to rise.
“Community transmission affects the staff of our health network and puts a lot of pressure on the health-care network,” he said, adding that the province is already dealing with a backlog of surgeries and other medical services that had to be put on hold last spring.
Officials single out dinner parties
He said Quebecers must make this short-term sacrifice or face the level of shutdowns seen in the spring.
While Dubé and Quebec’s director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, singled out dinner parties, they said the province’s restaurants can remain open.
“In restaurants, there is a [level of] control that is really different from a party,” Arruda said.
Regulations put in place by the province’s workplace health and safety board require masks to be worn when customers are not seated, and in orange zones, tables of more than six are not allowed.
Those who do not comply can be fined up to $6,000.