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Checking in on Montreal as restrictions extend

by Elyette Levy November 2, 2020
Checking in on Montreal as restrictions extend

The extension of red-zone measures bring additional uncertainty to Montrealers

As the city enters a month-long extension of its red-zone restriction measures, Montrealers are feeling discouraged by the seemingly endless lockdown.

With gym and restaurant owners standing up against a continued shutdown, it’s clear that Montreal isn’t reacting well to the news.

In the past two weeks, Montreal has seen around 3,400 new cases and 20 deaths. Though Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce is where the most number of cases were reported for the last two weeks, Côte-Saint-Luc has been the borough most highly affected in proportion to its population size.

The people most affected in the past two weeks tended to be between ages 10 and 29, yet those over 80 have been disproportionately affected compared to other age groups throughout the pandemic overall.

This is presumably because of the nursing home crisis seen in April, with 18 care homes reporting at least one case of the virus. In the past 14 days, there have been over twice as many deaths reported in those over 80 compared to the rest of the population.

Interestingly, while Premier François Legault has stood firm on his decision to keep gyms closed, a majority of workplace outbreaks have been in shops: on Oct. 27, 20 out of the 58 workplace-related cases could be traced back to retail sector businesses.

As of Oct. 29, a total of 2,377 active cases had been reported within the Quebec school system, with about 85 per cent affecting public school students.

In the following weeks, more business closures are also expected, with local enterprises more vulnerable after a difficult first wave; 39 per cent of business owners have had to assume more debt because of restrictions. Quebec’s restaurant industry alone reported total losses of 30 per cent, or around $4 billion.

The announcement that Oct. 28 wouldn’t be the last day of Montreal’s partial lockdown has left many feeling frustrated and concerned.

“I’ve seen a lot of Instagram friends traveling to France or just anywhere in Europe in the past few weeks just to party and such,” said Naomie Tat, a photographer and designer who studies at Université de Montréal. “It’s really strange to me that they were able to do that; [it] feels irresponsible to me.”

Others are wondering what is coming at the end of November: with fears of overwhelming the city’s hospitals, it’s unclear whether the crisis will get any better come December.

“That’s what concerns me, we definitely can’t be having huge holiday gatherings,” says Concordia Political Science student Juliana Delmar, “but I have a really hard time thinking that people will respect [the restrictions] if the government comes out and says that there should be no gatherings for Christmas at all.”

“[I think] if they allow gatherings for Christmas, there might be a spike in January,” she says.

With these new measures in place, Premier Legault hopes the situation improves enough to safely allow for a deconfined holiday season — if not, the consequences could be devastating for our already fragile economy and for public health.

Photos by Christine Beaudoin

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