Quebec closes “non-essential” stores in two regions, imposes stricter lockdown

The Quebec government has announced that four regions in which restrictions were eased two weeks ago are going back into full lockdown, while two of those zones are going into a stricter lockdown with just about everything closed, including “non-essential” stores.

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The Quebec city area, including the suburb of Levis, and Gatineau, are going into what is being called the “deep” or “dark” red zones.

The premier announced that in these zones, everything except grocery stores and “essential” stores will be closed for ten days.

Quebecers voiced doubts about the lockdown’s “10 days” length.

In October, the government launched a 28-day lockdown that never ended in most parts of the province. As of today, most Quebecers have been under strict lockdown for six months and under a curfew every night since the beginning of 2021.

While cases are trending slightly up in the province, hospitalizations and death have remained stable and low.

A more contagious variant is being blamed for the increased spread. The province has vaccinated with at least one dose nearly 16% of its population, mostly targeting vulnerable elders.

The increase in cases could therefore not generate a large strain on the hospital system if those vulnerable are largely immunized.

The government did not wait to see if hospitalizations or deaths will trend up before locking down once again.

Most of the province has been under lockdown for half-a-year, with dine-in restaurants closed and family gatherings prohibited.

Two weeks ago, the government had announced that most regions, except for Montreal and its surroundings, which accounts for over half the Quebec population, could ease restrictions and open restaurants up.

Only two weeks later, in four of the largest regions, these restaurants are forced to close once again and will likely lose the bulk of the inventory they have just recently purchased.

As the scientific literature increasingly emphasizes the inefficacy of lockdowns, the Quebec government remains determined to use it as their main tool against the COVID-19 virus.

Meanwhile, the support for lockdowns has been rapidly fading within the province.

In a January 2021 poll, only 31% of respondents agreed with the following statement: “restrictions due to the COVID-19 have lasted long enough, it is time to regain our freedom”.  

Three months later, the number has jumped by 15%. Now 46% of respondents say it is time to regain freedom and lift the restrictions.

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