New gathering rules take effect in Quebec as Canada tops 2 million cases since start of pandemic
CBC News · Posted: Dec 26, 2021 11:47 AM ET | Last Updated: 34 minutes ago
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New restrictions on gatherings and restaurants are taking effect in Quebec as the highly infectious Omicron variant continues to drive a surge in COVID-19 cases across much of Canada. The country crossed the two million cases mark on Sunday.
Quebec reported 9,206 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, a day after it tallied more than 10,000 daily cases for the first time. It also reported four additional deaths.
Starting Sunday, the province is capping private gatherings at six people or two family bubbles. Restaurants are limited to serving groups of six, or two family bubbles — down from 10 people and three households.
In a Christmas message posted to Facebook, Premier François Legault acknowledged that the next few weeks would be “difficult.”
“It will be very important to continue our efforts and to stick together, even if we are tired,” he wrote.
Montreal’s director of public health has said it’s a “critical time” for the city’s health network, with 181 people hospitalized for COVID-19 across the city as of Thursday, an increase of 60 per cent over the last week.
Archbishop of Montreal Christian Lepine gives holy communion to worshippers who attended an outdoor mass in the parking lot of the Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, in Montreal on Saturday. (Peter McCabe/The Canadian Press)
New Brunswick will bring in tightened restrictions of its own on Monday, with households asked to stick to a steady bubble of 10, down from 20.
The stricter Level 2 rules also include requiring restaurants to operate at 50 per cent capacity and request proof-of-vaccination, as well as capacity limits for other businesses, public gatherings and faith venues.
The province reported 265 cases on Friday, its highest-ever single-day count, and one additional death.
Meanwhile, Ontario reported 9,826 new cases on Sunday, a day after it topped 10,000 new cases for the first time.
The 10,412 new cases reported on Saturday marked the third consecutive day the province had broken its record for daily case counts. With Sunday’s numbers, the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases now stands at 6,746, up from 2,542 one week ago.
Experts have said the actual number of cases is likely far higher than those reported each day, because many public health units have reached their testing capacity.
The province is racing to provide COVID-19 vaccine boosters, with some clinics running on Christmas Day. Anyone aged 18 and older is now eligible as long as three months have passed since their second shot.
Nova Scotia on Sunday reported 1,147 new cases over a two-day period. With these numbers, Canada has now reported 2,000,150 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic.
– From CBC News and The Canadian Press, last updated at 11 a.m. ET
What’s happening across Canada
For more details on how COVID-19 is impacting your community — including hospital data and the latest on restrictions — check out the coverage from CBC newsrooms around the country.
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What’s happening around the world
As of 11 a.m. ET Sunday, more than 279.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University’s case-tracking tool. The reported global death toll stood at almost 5.4 million.
In the Americas, U.S. airlines called off hundreds of flights for a third day in a row on Sunday as surging COVID-19 infections grounded crews and forced tens of thousands of Christmas weekend travellers to change their plans.
Commercial airlines cancelled 656 flights within, into or out of the United States on Sunday, slightly down from nearly 1,000 from Christmas Day and nearly 700 on Christmas Eve, according to a tally on flight-tracking website FlightAware.com. Further cancellations were likely, and more than 920 flights were delayed.