Spike in Canada's Covid Cases Puts Quebec, Ontario at Risk of Another Lockdown – Bloomberg

Canada’s largest provinces are bringing in new limits on activity after a spike in Covid-19 cases, threatening to short-circuit an economic recovery.

Quebec will force public places including bars, museums, cinemas and restaurant dining rooms to close from Oct. 1 to Oct. 28 in three regions, including greater Montreal and greater Quebec City. Schools and stores will remain open. The province, which has had more virus deaths than 40 U.S. states, is an epicenter of a second wave with about 5,000 active cases, a 71% jump from the beginning of August.

Premier Francois Legault announced the measures Monday “with a heavy heart” and said his government is working on ways to support the businesses affected. People living in those regions also won’t be allowed to receive guests at home.

“The situation has become critical,” Legault said at a news conference. “If we don’t want our hospitals to be submerged, if we want to limit the number of deaths, we must act strongly right now.”

Tracking the Spread of the Coronavirus Outbreak in the U.S.

Ontario, the largest province with 14.7 million people, reported 700 new cases Monday, the most ever in a day, though it’s also testing far more people than it was in spring. A group of hospitals called on Premier Doug Ford’s government to revert to stricter “stage two” measures in Toronto and Ottawa, which would mean restricting or closing indoor businesses such as gyms, movie theaters and restaurants.

“It’s up to each of us. Together our collective actions will decide if we face a wave or a tsunami,” Ford said Monday at a news conference during which he pleaded for residents to follow rules and get the flu vaccine — but did not move the province back to stage two. Earlier this month, his government reduced limits on how many people can gather in one place.

It’s a reversal of fortune for a country that avoided the summertime spike that hit the U.S. As the pandemic got worse in Sun Belt states, a largely compliant Canadian population hunkered down and wore masks.

Provincial governments, which set the rules for most companies, allowed the vast majority of businesses to open up again, sometimes with capacity limits and new sanitation rules. In Toronto, the financial capital, many restrictions were lifted on July 31.

As Labor Day neared, virus cases started to rise again. They flared in British Columbia, praised for its early handling of the crisis. Nationally, active cases have more than doubled since Sept. 1, to 12,759. Almost 95% are in the four largest provinces, with the greatest problems in big cities.

Six months of restrictions left some Canadians just as restless as their counterparts in the rest of the world. Across the country, the spike in new cases is being driven by social gatherings among people in their 20s and 30s, fed up with social distancing and hoping to take advantage of the last weeks of warm weather.

ACTIVE CASES Aug. 1 Sept. 27 Increase
British Columbia 278 1,375 395%
Ontario 1,319 4,196 218%
Quebec 2,894 4,947 71%

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