Québec Announces Regional and Province-wide Restrictions in Response to COVID-19 Resurgence

November 20, 2020

Since October 2020, a sharp increase in positive tests for COVID-19 in Quebec has led the Government of Québec to (i) continuously renew the province’s public health emergency and (ii) reimpose some restrictions that had previously been lifted in many regions. For business, the current restrictions in Level 4/Red areas, which were to remain in force until November 23, 2020, have now been extended to January 11, 2021. 

Restrictions for private gatherings in Level 4/Red areas will also be loosened between December 24 and December 27, 2020 to permit small groups of family and friends to meet. However, Quebecers are being asked to quarantine themselves for a week before and a week after Christmas on a voluntary basis.  Further details on the rules in respect of private gatherings will be provided when available. 

The severity of the measures varies from region to region and they generally relate to certain private gatherings as well as to the operations of restaurants, bars, microbreweries, tourist accommodation, casinos, museums, amusement centres, libraries, movie theatres, places of worship, residential and long-term care centres, rented halls and many others.

This article highlights some of these additional restrictions and how they build on those that were previously in effect (see our prior article) and is regularly updated as Québec’s pandemic response develops.

Public Health Emergency Extended

Québec’s public health emergency continues to be extended (currently to November 25, 2020) by the Quebec Minister of Health and Social Services who is empowered to take measures to protect public health.

Québec-wide Restrictions

Certain restrictions are identical in all regions of Québec.

With respect to holders of bar permits, under Ministerial Order 2020-063 dated September 11, 2020 as amended and Ministerial Order 2020-064 dated September 17, 2020 as amended, the following requirements have been implemented:

  • A requirement to maintain specific registers and their patrons are required to furnish the information necessary for the purposes of the register, which has to be destroyed 30 days after being entered in the register; and
  • A prohibition against admitting, in each room and on each terrace of the establishment where the permit is used, more than 50% of the number of persons that may be admitted under its permit.

With Ministerial Order 2020-064 dated September 17, 2020 as amended, private seniors' residences are now required to maintain specific registers for every visitor admitted to the residence as well as registers of entry and exits by residents and staff members. Everyone is required to furnish the required information (which must be destroyed 30 days after being entered).

Restrictions in Less Affected Regions

As of October 1, 2020, those areas of Québec that are less seriously affected – i.e. those not in the Level 3/Orange or Level 4/Red areas (as provided in Ministerial Order 2020-068 dated September 20, 2020 as amended and Ministerial Order 1020-2020 dated September 30, 2020 as amended) – are subject to the following restriction:

A maximum of 10 people can be present in a private residence or tourist accommodation unless they are members of the same residence or equivalent.

Exception: A person who performs a service or support may be present even though he or she is not an occupant of the residence or tourist establishment.

The September 30, 2020 Order, as amended, provides a list of what will constitute a service or support which includes, among other things:

  • service/support required for a person’s health or safety, for personal care, for commercial purposes, for childcare or education, and for domestic help (among others);
  • a maintenance, repair or residential renovation service;
  • a visit for the sale or lease of a residence; and
  • other services or support of the same nature.

A maximum of 250 persons may gather in places where it is customary to sit relatively still and speak little, e.g. cinemas, theatres and audio-visual recording studios, halls rented for meetings and places of worship. A maximum of 50 persons may gather in a hall rented for any other purpose.

A person’s right to peacefully demonstrate is recognized but he or she must wear a face covering and maintain a two-metre distance from others except if he or she is providing a service or support). Persons gathering in an outdoor public place must also maintain a two-metre distance from each other unless they occupy the same private residence or one of them provides a service or support to the other.

Restrictions in Level 3 (Orange) Regions

As indicated on the government site, Ministerial Order 1020-2020 dated September 30, 2020 as amended, as amended, designates the following health regions as Level 3 (orange) :

  • Bas-Saint Laurent;
  • Outaouais except Ville de Gatineau and MRC of Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais;
  • Nord-du-Québec  (includes Eeyou, Istchee, Jamésie and Kativik);
  • Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine except the Îles-de-la-Madeleine;
  • Laurentides except MRC of Deux-Montagnes for the territories that are part of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, MRC of La Rivière-du-Nord, MRC of Thérèse-De Blainville, and Ville de Mirabel.

The Level 3 restrictions applicable in these “orange” areas include the following:

Private residences and tourist accommodation

In private residences (or the like), hotels and other tourist accommodation in these areas, gatherings (whether within such places or on their grounds) are reduced to a maximum of 6 persons (down from 10) unless the persons are occupants of a maximum of 2 private residences (as opposed to the previous “recommendation” of no more than three households) or their equivalent.

From a business perspective, there is also an important exception for a person who is receiving a service or support from another.

Organized Indoor and Outdoor gatherings: Halls, places of worship, cinemas, theatres, public venues, etc.

In Level 3 areas, a maximum of 250 people can be in attendance at a place of worship or concert halls, cinemas, theatres, etc.

A maximum of 25 people can be gathered for indoor or outdoor organized activities such as marriages, family or workplace celebrations, picnics, etc. in outdoor public settings or in a rented or community hall (exceptions for certain recreational and sports activities and public venues covered by the previous rule). 

Restaurants, bars, food courts and casinos

The following limit applies with respect to a restaurant, a food court in a shopping centre or food store, at casino or gaming house tables, in a bar or in any other room used for the purposes of restaurant services or the consumption of alcohol in these areas:

A maximum of 6 persons may be seated at the same table (down from 10) unless the persons are occupants of a single private residence (or its equivalent) or if one person is receiving from another person a service or support.

The holders of bar permits for these areas can sell alcohol only from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. (previously, midnight). No consumption of alcoholic beverages is permitted in such establishments after midnight (previously, 1 a.m.). 

Residential and long-term care centres

Visits are now limited to those (i) for humanitarian purposes or to obtain care or services required by their state of health; or (ii) by a family caregiver who provides significant aid to the user or resident.

Restrictions in Level 4 (Red) Regions

Level 4 “Maximum Alert” restrictions apply in Québec’s two major metropolitan areas as well as in a number of additional health regions, as follows:

  • Montréal (including all municipalities in the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal);
  • Ville de Québec (including all the Capitale-Nationale health region);
  • Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean;
  • Mauricie;
  • Centre-du-Québec;
  • Estrie;
  • Ville de Gatineau and MRC of Les Collines-de-l’Outaouais in Outaouais;
  • Chaudière-Appalaches;
  • Laval;
  • Lanaudière;
  • MRC of Deux-Montagnes for the territories that are part of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, MRC of La Rivière-du-Nord, MRC of Thérèse-De Blainville, and Ville de Mirabel in the Laurentides; and
  • Montérégie.

As noted in our introductory paragraphs, the restrictions for private gatherings are being loosened for a 4-day period around Christmas. Fuller details will be provided when available. 

Private residence and tourist accommodation: guests now strictly limited

In private residences (or the like) and hotels and other tourist accommodation in Level 4 areas, only occupants of the same residence or of the tourist home are now permitted, with the following limited exceptions for:

  • a person providing service or support to another; and
  • if the person lives alone, one person from another household.

Funerals and places of worship: limit of 25 persons

A maximum of 25 persons may attend a funeral or a place of worship. In the case of a funeral, the organizer must maintain specific registers and patrons are required to furnish the information necessary for the purposes of the register (such information must be destroyed after 30 days).

Restaurants, bars, food courts and casinos closed

Activities in the following are suspended in Level 4 areas:

  • restaurants, and food courts in shopping centres and food stores, except for deliveries, take-outs or drive-through orders;
  • bars and discotheques;
  • microbreweries and distilleries in respect of their services permitting consumption of food or beverages on the premises;
  • casinos and gaming houses;
  • museums, biodomes, planetariums, insectariums, botanical gardens, aquariums and zoos;
  • arcades, amusement centres and parks as well as water parks;
  • saunas and spas, except personal care provided therein;
  • libraries other than those in educational institutions, except lending desks;
  • movie theatres and rooms in which performing arts are presented, including venues where the arts are broadcast;
  • youth hostels;
  • physical training rooms; and
  • any indoor place used for an event-based or social activity, other than a private residence.

There is also a prohibition against being in a place where activities have been suspended as set out above unless you are there to engage in activities that have not been suspended in these places.

Indoor gatherings

The public is forbidden from attending indoor productions and recording sessions, training sessions and amateur sports events. No one may gather in a rented hall or community hall unless the activities are part of the mission of a community organization.

Outdoor gatherings

In the outdoor public places referred to in Order in Council 817-2020 (August 5, 2020), that is, any outdoor location other than the land of a private residence or its equivalent, outdoor gatherings are now prohibited except in certain school-related contexts. As noted above, masks are mandatory for demonstrations. Persons from an area in which this prohibition applies may not gather in an outdoor public place in another area except to study, work or practice their profession.

Residential and long-term care centres

Visits are now limited to those (i) for humanitarian purposes or to obtain care or services required by their state of health; or (ii) by a family caregiver who provides significant aid to the user or resident.

Fines

Those failing to respect social distancing rules or holding illegal private parties may be fined up to $1,000.

Other recommendations

The Government of Québec continues to recommend that a resident of a Level 4 area not travel to another region which is at Level 3 or below, or outside of Québec.

Going Forward

Additional restrictions and closings may be imposed in other regions if the Government of Québec is unsatisfied with the province’s progress in fighting the pandemic. We will keep you posted.

DISCLAIMER: This publication is intended to convey general information about legal issues and developments as of the indicated date. It does not constitute legal advice and must not be treated or relied on as such. Please read our full disclaimer at www.stikeman.com/legal-notice.

Stay in Touch with Knowledge Hub