Quebec premier says bars could close following recent increase in COVID-19 cases
Province reported 142 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Thursday he is concerned by the rise in COVID-19 infections as the province reported the highest single-day increase in confirmed cases since mid-June.
Legault said the province’s director of public health is analyzing the situation and will make a recommendation soon about whether to close bars and nightclubs following a recent string of outbreaks in the Montreal area linked to those venues.
“At this moment, we haven’t ruled out closing the bars,” Legault told reporters in Carleton, Que., in the Gaspesie region.
Quebec reported 142 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday — the largest single-day increase since June 12 — and 10 new deaths, nine of which occurred in the past 24 hours. The province has now reported a total of 57,001 COVID-19 cases and 5,646 deaths since the pandemic began.
Hospitalizations continue to drop in the province, however. The number of patients being treated in hospital fell by eight, for a total of 277, including 20 people who are in intensive care, the same number as Wednesday.
Testing capacity to increase
Authorities said they conducted 12,887 COVID-19 tests Tuesday, the last day for which data is available.
The rise in infections comes after authorities recently identified at least 30 cases of COVID-19 linked to nine Montreal-area bars, prompting health officials last weekend to instruct anyone who had gone to a bar in the city since July 1 to get tested.
Quebec last week tried to reduce COVID-19 exposure at bars by mandating the venues limit capacity to 50 per cent and stop serving alcohol at midnight.
“We tightened the rules,” Legault said Thursday. “But yes, I have concerns.”
The government was criticized this week after people said they had to wait several hours to be tested for COVID-19 at drop-in medical centres in Montreal.
Quebec said late Wednesday it would increase testing capacity in the city by 1,000 additional tests per day to meet demand.