QUEBEC – With the epidemiological situation improving, the Quebec government announced the easing of several COVID restrictions as of November 15, including removing the recommendation that people work from home as much as possible.
Since that date, high school students no longer have to wear masks in classrooms due to the high rate of vaccination amongst students and staff. However, masks are still required in common areas and buses.
Mask rules remain the same in elementary schools. The province said the goal is to have children between
5 and 11 years old receive a first dose by Christmas, starting as soon as Health Canada makes a decision on authorizing Pfizer’s vaccine for that group.
In bars and clubs, patrons no longer have to stay seated, and dancing and karaoke are allowed as long as participants wear a mask or maintain a distance from others in the case of performing karaoke. Customer registries are no longer required for these locations, but vaccination passports remain mandatory to enter.
Province loses battle on mandating health network vaccination
Although mandatory double vaccination of all health workers was supposed to be required as of November 15 or employees faced suspension without pay, a deadline that was extended from October 15, Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced on November 3 that the measure will be abandoned completely because the province can’t afford to lose thousands of unvaccinated employees.
Even though about 97% of health system employees are vaccinated, about 14,000 haven’t received a first dose, which would have required services to be cut, straining an already fragile network. Double vaccination is required for new hires.
Since October 16, the government is no longer reimbursing unvaccinated health workers, who must be tested at least three times a week, for their time and costs of travelling to and from testing sites. They must now assume all costs related to the testing and do it outside of their work day. Those who don’t comply are suspended without pay.
Boosters available for 70+
The Quebec government announced on November 9 that they are expanding their COVID third dose booster program to those 70 and older after studies have shown that vaccine protection tends to decrease slightly over time in those 80 and over. Until then, the program was only available to those who are immunocompromised.
The third shot is recommended six months after the second and appointments will open via the ClicSante website according to the following schedule: November 16 – 80+; November 18 – 75+; and November 23 – 70+.
The government also recommends that people who received two doses of a viral vector vaccine like AstraZeneca/Covishield or Johnson & Johnson get a third dose of a mRNA vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). This group can start booking appointments as of November 25.
Outbreak at DWKS
Between November 6 and 11, seven cases were confirmed at Dr. Wilbert Keon School in L’Isle-aux-Allumettes. One class remains in isolation.