Quebec to announce future of mask rule on Tuesday

The Quebec government will announce its decision regarding the future of indoor masking rules for public spaces on Tuesday, according to Radio-Canada.

During an interview on Sunday, Quebec’s interim public health director Dr. Luc Boileau said the government is considering extending mask mandates in the province, which were expected to be lifted April 15.

“We’re seriously considering if it wouldn’t be an opportune time to push the end of mask mandates to a later date because of the seriousness of this wave,” Boileau said. 

“We certainly expect to provide a recommendation in that direction.” 

According to Radio Canada, Quebec Public Health will make its recommendation to the government on Monday, with a decision being made public the following day.

Boileau said the sixth wave of infections has grown in severity since its presence in the province was confirmed by Quebec’s public health institute (INSPQ) earlier this week. 

Nearly 1,300 people are in hospital with COVID-19 as of Friday, when 17 people died. 

Still, Boileau said, no other restrictions are planned. He said the government is calling on Quebecers to take precautions and to be informed about the risks of contracting the virus before doing an activity that involves other people. 

“People have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been inundated by it for two years. Generally speaking, they’ve absorbed the important information they need to protect themselves and others,” Boileau said. 

“Citizens have to accept adapting their behaviour. I know everyone is tired of hearing about it and the sixth wave announcement was a tough blow.”

Benoit Barbeau, virologist in the department of biological sciences at the Université du Québec à Montréal, said the BA.2 Omicron sub-variant is more transmissible than the original Omicron variant. 

Barbeau agreed delaying the removal of masks in public places would be a good idea. 

“I would give it one week to better appreciate how the situation evolves,” he said. “People think we have reached the endemic phase of the pandemic, but we’re not there yet.”