COVID-19 update: DELTA variant reaches Outaouais; vaccine passport use detailed


Allyson Beauregard

QUÉBEC – In a push to increase vaccination before the school year starts, the provincial government modified the ClicSanté website on July 6 to allow adult Quebecers to book an advance second dose as early as four weeks after the first; the 12-17 year old group must still wait an eight week interval. The 18-29 age group, which makes up the majority of those returning to post-secondary education in the fall, has a lagging vaccination rate of 67%.
If the epidemiological situation worsens in the fall when students return to school, Health Minister Christian Dubé said lockdowns will be avoided in the event of future waves, but unvaccinated people may experience restrictions.
On July 8, Dubé detailed how proof of vaccination, called ‘vaccine passports’, will be used as an alternative to lockdowns and business closures.
Three rules will be followed, said Dubé: vaccine passports will only be used after everyone has had the opportunity to have a second dose (expected to be after September 1); passports will only be required if transmission and outbreaks justify it in certain sectors or territories (ex: bars or gyms); and passports will not be required for accessing essential and public services.
Restrictions loosened
With COVID numbers steadily decreasing, the provincial government continues to loosen restrictions.
As of July 2, public outdoor events could accommodate up to 5,000 people; the previous limit was set at 3,500. With assigned seating, people from different households must maintain a one metre distance, masks are recommened while circulating, and reservations are mandatory. If spectators are not standing or sitting, basic health measures must be followed, the audience must be divided into independent sections of a maximum of 500 people, reservations are required and masks are recommended while circulating.
Indoors, in auditoriums or stadiums with assigned seating, a maximum of 3,500 people are allowed. Beyond 250 people, the audience must be subdivided into independent sections with a maximum of 250 people. They must have separate entrances, exits, and sanitary facilities. A 1 metre distance between spectators who do not reside at the same address must be observed. Masks are mandatory in indoor events, but may be removed once seated.
Starting July 12 across Québec, the two metre distance required between people of different households was reduced to one metre, except for things like singing events and high intensity exercise areas in gyms where the two metre distance still stands.
The same day, capacity limits in retail businesses were abolished, requiring business owners to be responsible for ensuring a one meter distance can
be maintained between customers.
DELTA arrives in the Outaouais
On July 2, the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l’Outaouais
(CISSSO) confirmed the presence of the Delta variant, a highly-infectious strain that first appeared in India in April/May, in the Outaouais; as of that date, four cases were confirmed.
“The investigations have been completed and the individuals have completed their isolation. None of the cases are related to an outbreak. We reiterate the importance of receiving two doses of the vaccine to protect against the Delta variant,” said Camille Brochu-Lafrance, CISSSO communications agent.
Travel abroad
As of July 5, fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents can enter the country without undergoing quarantine. However, they must be vaccinated with vaccines approved in Canada at least 14 days before arriving. Before arriving, relevant information must be provided through the government’s ArriveCAN app or online. Travellers must meet testing requirements (those five and older must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival and be tested again when arriving), be asymptomatic, and have a suitable quarantine plan in case an exemption isn’t given (determined by a government representative at time of entry).
Restrictions stay the same for non-vaccinated individuals: when flying, passengers have to stay in a government-approved hotel upon arriving for three days pending a negative COVID test result, quarantine at home for the remaining 14 days if the result is negative, and take another test on day eight of their isolation period; those arriving via land have to quarantine at home for 14 days.
Non-vaccinated children or dependent adults travelling with those approved for an exemption are also exempt from the hotel stay, but they must quarantine at home for 14 days after arrival.