This article was updated on June 9, 2021.
At a press briefing in Quebec City on May 18, 2021, Premier François Legault, the Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé, and the National Director of Public Health Dr. Horacio Arruda, unveiled the plan to progressively lift current health measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A prudent and gradual reopening plan, as described by the Premier, will allow for the easing of public health measures over the next few weeks in all Québec regions, according to a schedule established based on projections of the epidemiological situation and the progress of vaccination. In this article, you will find a summary of important dates to remember concerning changes in alert levels and relief measures. We have updated the measures below in light of further announcements by the Quebec government on May 25 and June 8, 2021.
Please note that at the time of writing this special bulletin, only some of the Orders in Council providing for the health measures detailed below had been published in the Gazette officielle du Québec. Some details and exceptions may change with respect to the measures below. Please contact our team should you want to obtain more information.
As further set out in an Order in Council dated May 26, 2021, please also note that in connection with the reopening of various businesses and events, a register must be maintained detailing the names of customers and attendees, phone numbers and if available, email addresses. This register may only be disclosed to the appropriate health authorities and the information must be destroyed after 30 days.
Furthermore, in red and orange zones, it is planned that all employees who perform administrative or clerical work continue to perform these tasks remotely, with the exception of employees whose presence is essential to the continued operation of the business or organization. Also, manufacturing, primary processing and construction companies must reduce their activities to those necessary to fulfill their commitments.
As of June 8 and until the end of the school year, elementary and secondary school students as well as school staff have been authorized by Public Health to remove their masks in class. However, masks must be worn in common areas and on school buses.
Initial vaccination target reached on June 3
The government's goal was to have at least 75% of adult Quebecers vaccinated before the national holiday on June 24. Thanks to the success of the vaccination campaign, the government was able to reach this objective on June 3. In addition, thanks to the arrival of additional vaccines, the interval between the first and second dose will be reduced to eight weeks for all vaccines, subject to their availability.
Change in alert levels
As a reminder, as of May 18, 2021, most Québec regions, including Montréal, Laval and the Capitale-Nationale, are in the red zone. However, if the situation remains stable, Québec regions may gradually change alert levels over the next few weeks based on the following schedule:
- May 24, 2021: Transition to red zone for the few regions subject to special emergency measures
The following few regions subject to special emergency measures moved to the red zone on Monday, May 24: the Granit MRC (Eastern Townships region), the Etchemins, Beauce-Sartigan and Robert-Cliche MRCs (Chaudière-Appalaches region), as well as the Kamouraska, Témiscouata, Rivière-du-Loup and Les Basques MRCs (Lower St. Lawrence region).
- May 31, 2021: Transition to orange zone
As of May 31, the majority of regions in the red zone were downgraded to the orange alert level, including the Capitale-Nationale, Montérégie, Laurentides, Lanaudière, Outaouais and a large part of the regions under surveillance, including Chaudière-Appalaches, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Estrie. This means that secondary 3, 4 and 5 students will be able to attend their classes in person, on a full-time basis. In addition, restaurant dining rooms will be able to reopen and accommodate a maximum of two adults per table, from different addresses, accompanied by their underage children, if applicable. Gyms will also be allowed to reopen.
- June 7, 2021: Remaining red zone regions transition to orange zone while other regions transition to yellow and green zones
The regions of Montreal, Capitale-Nationale, Laval, Chaudière-Appalaches, Montérégie, Laurentides, Lanaudière, Estrie, Outaouais and the four MRCs in the western part of Bas-St-Laurent (the MRCs of Rivière-du-Loup, Les Basques, Témiscouata and Kamouraska) moved to the orange zone on June 7, thus leaving no region in the red alert level.
On the same day, the regions of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Mauricie, Centre-du-Québec and the four MRCs in the eastern part of Bas-St-Laurent (the MRCs of Rimouski-Neigette, Mitis, Matapédia and Matanie) moved to the yellow zone.
The regions of Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Côte-Nord and Nord-du-Québec moved to the green zone.
- June 14, 2021: Remaining orange zone regions transition to yellow zone
By June 14, the regions of Montreal, Capitale-Nationale, Laval, Chaudière-Appalaches, Montérégie, Laurentides, Lanaudière, Estrie, Outaouais and the four MRCs in the western part of Bas-St-Laurent (the MRCs of Rivière-du-Loup, Les Basques, Témiscouata and Kamouraska) are expected to transition from the orange zone to the yellow zone. As a result, indoor gatherings will be permitted, but limited to the occupants from two separate private residences. Measures in effect in the yellow zone also include the resumption of outdoor team sports, the reopening of bars, and recommended rather than mandatory telecommuting.
- June 28, 2021: Transition to green zone
By June 28, 2021, areas then in the yellow zone are expected to move to the green zone, lifting most other health restrictions. Under the green zone rules, up to ten people from three different addresses will be allowed to gather in private homes, while still adhering to health guidelines, i.e. wearing masks and keeping their distance. In addition, indoor team sports will also resume. Restaurants and bars will now be able to accommodate a maximum of ten people per table.
Additional reopening measures applicable to the whole of Quebec planned in three stages
In addition to the reopening measures resulting from the gradual transition of regions into more permissive zones, the Quebec government has also announced additional measures that will apply to all of Québec, assuming that no region will be subject to special emergency measures. These lifting of restrictions will take place in three main stages:
- As of May 28, 2021
- Curfew: The curfew is lifted in all regions of Quebec.
- Restaurants: Outdoor restaurant terraces can reopen. In red and orange zones, restaurants can welcome customers, provided they are a maximum of two adults per table, from different addresses (they may be accompanied by their underage children). Occupants of the same private residence may eat at the same table. In the yellow zone, occupants of no more than two private residences may eat at the same table, while in the green zone, a maximum of 10 people will be permitted at the same table.
- Outdoor private gatherings: Gatherings of up to eight people from different residences or occupants of two separate residences are permitted on outdoor private property, provided that a physical distance of 2 metres is maintained.
- Inter-regional travel: Inter-regional travel is permitted, although there are specific rules for northern regions.
- Halls and stadiums: Indoor halls and outdoor stadiums with designated seats can accommodate 250 people per section, up to 2,500 people. Note also that drive-in theatres are opened since May 21.
- As of June 11, 2021
- Bars: Outdoor bars will be allowed to reopen with the same restrictions as restaurants.
- Sports and recreation: Supervised outdoor sports and recreation will be permitted in groups of up to 25 people; they must be non-contact sports in red and orange zones, but may there may be brief contact in yellow zones. The rules in the green zone will be the same as in the yellow zone, but with a maximum of 50 people.
- As of June 25, 2021
- Private gatherings: People who have received two doses of vaccine will be allowed to gather in private homes without distancing measures or masks, as announced in the May 18 press briefing. In the government press release provided after the briefing, it states there will be relief measures with regard to mask and distancing requirements.
- Day camps and summer camps: Day camps and summer camps will be able to open on June 25.
- Festivals and outdoor activities: Festivals and other outdoor activities will be allowed to resume with a maximum of 2,500 people. Details on the rules to follow for such events were made public following the press briefing and are available here.
The measures announced are subject to change and will depend on both the epidemiological situation and the vaccination coverage.
By the end of August, the government's objective is to have administered two doses of vaccine to 75% of Quebecers aged 12 and over. If this goal is met, the government expects to get back to normal (or at least to a "new normal") and to ease several additional requirements, i.e. no longer wearing a mask in most public places in Quebec, attending CEGEP and university in person for the fall semester (even for students who have not yet received their second dose), and gradually returning to work in person.
Proof of vaccination
Work is underway to make electronic proof of vaccination available. The application and use of this electronic proof in Québec has yet to be defined. However, the government wants to avoid vaccination being discriminatory if the workplace requires that an employee be vaccinated.
Our team remains at your disposal if you have any additional questions on the nature of these reliefs and their impact on your company.