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Christmas / Noël
Photograph: Jonathan Borba / Unsplash

Gatherings of up to 10 people will be permitted during the Christmas holidays

While red zone restrictions in Montreal and elsewhere will continue until January 11, 2021, the Quebec government will permit a limited window for gatherings from December 24 to 27.

JP Karwacki
Written by
JP Karwacki

While you could hear a collective groan across Quebec's red zones when it was announced that restrictions in red zones like Montreal and others would continue until January 11, 2021, Premier François Legault and Quebec Public Health Director Horacio Arruda made a curious proposal:

Families and friends would be able to gather indoors from December 24 to December 27—dates which match the province's statutory holidays for Christmas—provided they follow a "moral contract" that depends on people's sense of responsibility.


"We ask people to limit their contacts as much as possible a week before and a week after (the holidays)," Legault said. "That way, when we see our friends and family, we'll limit the risk of contagion."

"The incubation period can go to a maximum of 14 [days]," Quebec's Public Health Director Horacio Arruda added in justification of the decision, noting that "(incubation) mostly (occurs) around five or six days." Transmission is expected to happen, so the government is asking those exhibiting symptoms to (obviously) stay home and to observe a week of self-isolation before and after the holidays to reduce risks.

In a press release that followed the news conference, the Quebec government outlined this moral contract as follows: "The objective is clear," it reads, "to relax the rules for the holiday season, but without relaunching transmission and contagion."


How the red zone exemption holiday moral contract works:

Request #1: Together, maintain the current situation until the Holidays, and beyond.

Request #2: Participate in voluntary confinement, one week before and one week after the authorized period for private gatherings.

Request #3: Limit itself to gatherings of a maximum of ten people over a period of four days, from December 24 to 27.

Request #4: Above all, continue to protect each other, especially older people.

There's one glaring issue with this proposed moral contract, however: Chanukah isn't being respected, but Christmas is.

We think most people will be happy with those four days, so that's why we chose those four days

Reporters pointed out during the November 19 conference that one of the eight days of Chanukah is during the first self-isolation week, and went on to note how special rules were not created for major Jewish holidays earlier in the year.

When asked why the days around Christmas were chosen—despite Quebec's focus on secularism in the province—Legault curtly replied "we think most people will be happy with those four days, so that's why we chose those four days."

When asked by reporters if Jewish Quebecers could use the week-before-week-after approach with their won holidays, Arruda turned down the idea. "We say no," Arruda said, "because we have to concentrate those meetings within the same four days."

The latest from Time Out Montréal

- Quebec's red zone status—and all the closures that come with it—have been extended to January 11

- Here's food you can listen to: Phi Centre's Soundbites pairs playlists with meals

- All of the digital music and art from Montreal's MUTEK 2020 festival is free online right now

- Montreal's LGBTQ film fest image+nation is going digital with dinner-and-a-movie options

- A Christmas market pop-up is coming to Montreal's Chinatown this weekend with snacks and gifts

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