At a press briefing in Quebec City on May 18, 2021, Premier François Legault, the Minister of Health and Social Services Christian Dubé, and the National Director of Public Health Dr. Horacio Arruda, unveiled the plan to progressively lift current health measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A prudent and gradual reopening plan, as described by the Premier, will allow for the easing of public health measures over the next few weeks in all Québec regions, according to a schedule established based on projections of the epidemiological situation and the progress of vaccination. In this article, you will find a summary of important dates to remember concerning changes in alert levels and relief measures.

Please note that at the time of writing this special bulletin, the Orders in Council providing for the health measures detailed below had not yet been published in the Gazette officielle du Québec for the vast majority of the measures. Some details and exceptions may change with respect to the measures below. Please contact our team should you want to obtain more information.

Vaccination target moved up to June 15

The government goal was to have at least 75% of adult Quebecers vaccinated before the national holiday on June 24. Thanks to the success of the vaccination campaign, the government was able to advance this objective to June 15. In addition, thanks to the arrival of additional vaccines, second dose appointments scheduled for September may also be moved up to August.

Change in alert levels

As a reminder, as of May 18, 2021, most Québec regions, including Montréal, Laval and the Capitale-Nationale, are in the red zone. However, if the situation remains stable, Québec regions may gradually change alert levels over the next few weeks based on the following schedule:

  • May 24, 2021: Transition to red zone for the few regions subject to special emergency measures

The following few regions currently subject to special emergency measures will move to the red zone on Monday, May 24: the Granit MRC (Eastern Townships region), the Etchemins, Beauce-Sartigan and Robert-Cliche MRCs (Chaudière-Appalaches region), as well as the Kamouraska, Témiscouata, Rivière-du-Loup and Les Basques MRCs (Lower St. Lawrence region).

  • May 31, 2021: Transition to orange zone

Unless there are exceptions, by Monday, May 31, the vast majority of Québec regions that are currently in a red zone will move to an orange zone. This means that secondary 3, 4 and 5 students will be able to attend their classes in person, on a full-time basis. In addition, restaurant dining rooms will be able to reopen and accommodate a maximum of two adults per table, from different addresses, accompanied by their underage children, if applicable. Gyms will also be allowed to reopen.

  • June 14, 2021: Transition to yellow zone

By June 14, the majority of Québec regions should also move from the orange zone to the yellow zone. As a result, gatherings in private homes will be permitted, but limited to the occupants from two separate private residences. Measures in effect in the yellow zone also include the resumption of outdoor team sports, the reopening of bars, and recommended rather than mandatory telecommuting.

  • June 28, 2021: Transition to green zone

By June 28, 2021, areas then in the yellow zone are expected to move to the green zone, lifting most other health restrictions. Under the green zone rules, up to ten people from three different addresses will be allowed to gather in private homes, while still adhering to health guidelines, i.e. wearing masks and keeping their distance. In addition, indoor team sports will also resume. Restaurants and bars will now be able to accommodate a maximum of ten people per table.

Additional reopening measures applicable to the whole of Quebec planned in three stages

In addition to the reopening measures resulting from the gradual transition of regions into more permissive zones, the Quebec government has also announced additional measures that will apply to all of Québec, assuming that no region will be subject to special emergency measures. These lifting of restrictions will take place in three main stages:

  • As of May 28, 2021
    • Curfew: The curfew will be lifted in all regions of Quebec.
    • Restaurants: Outdoor restaurant terraces will be able to reopen. In red and orange zones, restaurants will be able to welcome customers, provided they are a maximum of two adults per table, from different addresses (they may be accompanied by their underage children). Occupants of the same private residence may eat at the same table. In the yellow zone, occupants of no more than two private residences may eat at the same table, while in the green zone, a maximum of 10 people will be permitted at the same table.
    • Outdoor private gatherings: Gatherings of up to eight people from different residences or occupants of two separate residences will be permitted on outdoor private property, provided that a physical distance of 2 metres is maintained.
    • Inter-regional travel: Inter-regional travel will now be permitted, although there will be specific rules for northern regions.
    • Halls and stadiums: Indoor halls and outdoor stadiums with designated seats will be able to accommodate 250 people per section, up to 2,500 people. Note also that drive-in theatres will be able to open earlier in the month, starting May 21.
  • As of June 11, 2021
    • Bars: Outdoor bars will be allowed to reopen with the same restrictions as restaurants.
    • Sports and recreation: Supervised outdoor sports and recreation will be permitted in groups of up to 25 people; they must be non-contact sports in red and orange zones, but may there may be brief contact in yellow zones. The rules in the green zone will be the same as in the yellow zone, but with a maximum of 50 people.
  • As of June 25, 2021
    • Private gatherings: People who have received two doses of vaccine will be allowed to gather in private homes without distancing measures or masks, as announced in the May 18 press briefing. In the government press release provided after the briefing, it states there will be relief measures with regard to mask and distancing requirements.
    • Day camps and summer camps: Day camps and summer camps will be able to open on June 25.
    • Festivals and outdoor activities: Festivals and other outdoor activities will be allowed to resume with a maximum of 2,500 people. Details on the rules to follow for such events were made public following the press briefing and are available here.

The measures announced are subject to change and will depend on both the epidemiological situation and the vaccination coverage.

By the end of August, the government's objective is to have administered two doses of vaccine to 75% of Quebecers aged 12 and over. If this goal is met, the government expects to get back to normal (or at least to a "new normal") and to ease several additional requirements, i.e. no longer wearing a mask in most public places in Quebec, attending CEGEP and university in person for the fall semester (even for students who have not yet received their second dose), and gradually returning to work in person.

Proof of vaccination

Work is underway to make electronic proof of vaccination available. The application and use of this electronic proof in Québec has yet to be defined. However, the government wants to avoid vaccination being discriminatory if the workplace requires that an employee be vaccinated.