Quebec announces its reopening plan

11 minute read
21 May 2021

This article was updated on June 23, 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 Québec government on May 25, June 8 and June 22, 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 June 9, 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 orange and red 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. Despite the easing of these measures in yellow and green zones, work from home is recommended in the yellow zone and a progressive return to work is planned in the green zone, subject to applicable health measures.

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 for the first dose reached on June 3

The government's initial goal was to have at least 75% of adult Quebecers vaccinated with a first dose of the vaccine 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 has been 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 

On 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) moved from the orange zone to the yellow zone. As a result, indoor gatherings are 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

On June 28, 2021, areas then in the yellow zone will 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 indoors in private homes and a maximum of 20 people outdoors, while still adhering to health guidelines, i.e. wearing masks and keeping their distance. In addition, indoor team sports will also resume, subject to certain restrictions. Restaurants and bars will be able to accommodate a maximum of ten people per table or the occupants of three households indoors and a maximum of 20 people per table outdoors.

Additional reopening measures applicable to the whole of Québec planned in three stages

In addition to the reopening measures resulting from the gradual transition of regions into more permissive zones, the Québec 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 Québec.
    • 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 can reopen with the same restrictions as restaurants.
    • Sports and recreation: Supervised outdoor sports and recreation are 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 are 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 are 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 open on June 25.
    • Festivals and outdoor activities: Festivals and other outdoor activities are allowed to resume with a maximum of 3,500 people.

The measures announced are subject to change and will depend on both the epidemiological situation and the vaccination coverage.

Vaccination target for the second dose in order to ease measures in the fall

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. This 75% target also applies to each individual age group. 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 Québec, 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

It is now possible to obtain an electronic proof of vaccination. 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 relief measures and their impact on your business.

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