Quebec delays reopening of businesses in Montreal until May 18
Not enough enough empty hospital beds to accommodate a surge in patients after more people go out and get sick.
MONTREAL — Businesses in Montreal will have to wait at least one extra week to welcome customers, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said, citing high hospitalization numbers as a reason to push back the planned reopening from May 11 to May 18.
As the province began removing police roadblocks limiting travel in some regions and allowing retail shops in much of the province to resume business, Legault pushed back the reopening of non-essential stores in the Montreal area.
He said that while the hospital situation is currently under control, there aren’t enough empty beds to accommodate a surge in patients after more people go out and get sick.
“We know that if … and when we reopen stores, we’ll probably have more cases in our hospitals,” he said in Quebec City.
While the province freed up some 7,000 hospital beds across the province at the beginning of the pandemic, Legault said the majority of the province’s 1,772 hospitalized patients are in Montreal, leading to tight situations in some hospitals.
More than 60% of deaths in the province have occurred in long-term care homes, however there have also been outbreaks in hospitals and in some Montreal neighbourhoods, including Montreal-Nord in the province’s north end.
Horacio Arruda, the province’s public health director, said health officials want to investigate the origin of hospitalized cases and get a better picture of community outbreaks before allowing stores to reopen.
The number of cases in hospital is stable, but has not declined as hoped, he said.
Legault says the construction and manufacturing sectors across Quebec will reopen as scheduled on May 11.
Elementary schools and daycares are scheduled to resume, with distancing measures in place, on May 11 in regions outside Montreal and on May 19 in Montreal.
For the moment, Legault chose not to change that date for Montreal, but said he would make a “data-driven decision” based on the numbers in the coming days.
In an afternoon news conference, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said she supported the province’s decision, which she said would allow the city to better prepare for an eventual reopening of businesses and schools.
Quebec recorded another 75 COVID-19 deaths, for a total of 2,280, and the province announced 32,623 confirmed cases of the virus, an increase of 758.