COVID-19 : Priority services and restrictions affecting twelve Quebec regions

31 March 2020

On March 28, 2020, the Minister of Health and Social Services adopted Decree No. 2020-11, which ordered travel restrictions in eight "health administration" regions.[1] On April 1, 2020, Decree No. 2020-13 added four "health administration" [2] regions to this list. As of April 1, 2020, the following regions are therefore the only areas that are not subject to total or partial travel restrictions: Capitale-Nationale, Estrie, Montréal, Chaudière-Appalaches, Laval and Montérégie.

Although this news was reported extensively in the media over the weekend, a few comments are in order.

Firstly, since travel to these regions is now subject to roadside checks, your employees' travel to these regions that would be justified by the performance of a priority activity can be facilitated by a letter from the employer confirming the reasons for travel.

Secondly, it should be noted that the health administration regions refer to the regions as defined by the Ministry of Health and Social Services to carry out its mission. In some cases, the map of the health administration regions [3] may differ from the map of municipal administrative regions [4]. For example, the boundaries of the Eastern Townships and Montérégie region may differ, depending on whether one is referring to the health administration region or the municipal administrative region. Decree No. 2020-11 applies, according to the health administration regions.

Finally, we believe it is important to recall the circumstances under which someone is allowed to travel to one of the 12 health administration regions subject to total or partial travel restrictions. Such travel is only permitted:

  1. For individuals whose principal residence is located in one of the regions;
  2. For the shipment of goods in order to ensure the continuity of activities from the priority services as set out in the decree of March 24;
  3. For travel necessary for humanitarian purposes;
  4. For travel necessary to obtain required health care or to provide such health care;
  5. For people in the practice of professions in these regions that are also covered by the decree of  March 24 relating to priority activities, and any changes to it;
  6. For individuals required to comply with an order contained in a judgment rendered by a court (or to exercise parental custody or access rights contained in an agreement);
  7. For people arriving directly from an area to which access is limited [5]
  8. For federal public service employees whose place of work is located in one of these regions;
  9. For persons transporting goods for a company or organization through Quebec.

It should also be noted that anyone showing symptoms of COVID-19 [6];cannot travel to these areas, even if they fulfill the criteria above, except to obtain care required by public health.

Additionally, any person who regains access to his or her principal residence in these areas must self-isolate for 14 days upon his or her return to the area in question, with few exceptions.[7]

Also, the Director of Public Health or a person authorized to act on the director's behalf or a physician may authorize a person to gain access to these areas under conditions determined by him.

Finally, persons who fail to comply with these instructions expose themselves to penalties that are described in the article that you can consult by clicking here.


[1] Bas-Saint-Laurent, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord, Nord-du-Québec, Gaspésie, Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Nunavik and Cree territories around James Bay.

[2] Outaouais, Lanaudière (territory of the regional municipalities of Autray, Joliette, Matawinie and Montcalm counties), Laurentians (territory of the regional municipalities of Antoine-Labelle, Argenteuil, Les-Pays-d'en-Haut and Laurentians counties) and Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec (territory of the La Tuque agglomeration).

[3] https://www.msss.gouv.qc.ca/reseau/regions-sociosanitaires-du-quebec/.

[4] https://www.msss.gouv.qc.ca/reseau/regions-sociosanitaires-du-quebec/.

[5] With the exception of the territory of the City of Gatineau, which can only be accessed by people arriving from the territory of the Regional County Municipality of Les Collines-de-l'Outaouais, and vice versa.

[6] These include: coughing, fever, shortness of breath, sore throat, or loss of sense of smell.

[7] That is, the cases referred to in 3, 4, 6 or 7 of the above list.


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