Quebec City gym closed as health officials link it to 68 COVID-19 cases
By Jacob Serebrin
MONTREAL — Public health officials in Quebec City have ordered a gym to close after detecting 68 cases of COVID-19 that they say are linked to the facility.
Mathieu Boivin, a spokesman for the regional health authority in Quebec City, said officials inspected the Mega Fitness Gym on Tuesday and found “obvious gaps” in the measures put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including a lack of distancing between clients and insufficient personal protective equipment for staff.
Users of the gym are linked to at least eight other workplace outbreaks, he said.
Earlier in the day, Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge said English-language school boards would not be allowed to have high school students attend in-person classes on alternating days.
As of Monday, students in Grades 9, 10 and 11 students in Quebec’s red zones — the highest level on the province’s pandemic alert system — were to return to class full-time. They had been alternating between in-class and online learning.
Some English schools boards had said they would continue with the hybrid model, but Roberge said that won’t be permitted.
“This is, in fact, mandatory, and it doesn’t depend on a school board, or a school service centre, or a private school. Each kid has the right to go to school every day,” he told reporters in Quebec City. “It’s a health decision, it’s not an educational decision, and we have to follow the recommendations of our health specialists.”
Russell Copeman, executive director of the Quebec English School Boards Association, said it doesn’t make sense to change a model that schools have been using since the fall with less than three months left in the school year.
Copeman said school boards found out about the return to full-time in-person learning less than a week before it was scheduled to take place and needed more time to prepare. He said school boards are also worried about the health impacts of a return to class when COVID-19 cases in Quebec are rising.
“It seems to us quite contradictory, the same week as the health minister announcing formally we’re in the third wave, the education minister announcing that everybody’s got to go back to in-person school learning,” he said.
Quebec reported 1,025 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and nine more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus, including three in the previous 24 hours.
Health officials said hospitalizations dropped by two, to 485, and 120 people were in intensive care, a drop of six.
The province says 42,298 doses of vaccine were administered during the previous 24 hours, for a total of 1,349,326.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.