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Percival Molson Memorial Stadium
Photograph: Alison Slattery

Montreal's latest red zone restrictions start today: Gyms, sports, schools and travel

Starting today, Montreal's red zone status is seeing further restrictions for gyms, team sports, schools and inter-regional travel.

By JP Karwacki

The increased red zone restrictions for Montreal announced made by the Quebec government that will affect gyms, team sports and organized leisure activities, masks for high schoolers and inter-regional travel go into effect today. These changes affect not only the Greater Montreal area, but all red zones, including Quebec City, the Chaudière-Appalaches region and three towns in the Gaspé for a minimum of 20 days.

In the hope of stemming the current high COVID case counts seen over the past week—many days are seeing cases in excess of 1,000 per day—Montreal and other red zone cities can expect the following, only to be reassessed on October 28th:

Gyms closing

Following their reopening in June, fitness centres and gyms must now close their doors again, but it has been noted that they will receive financial compensation, Junior Education Minister Isabelle Charest said. Montrealers should continue to look to their local gyms for ways to support them through gift certificates and merch, or to use any and all equipment rentals available, as was seen during the first lockdown.

Inside schools, however, gym classes and in-school sports will be permitted on the condition that all students stay in the same groups as their classes. 

A ban on team sports and leisure activities

The new restrictions on gyms apply to sports and other organized recreational activities like yoga and aerobics. Isabelle Charest, Quebec's minister for sports, said she was disappointed with having to make that announcement, but stressed that they were necessary given the rise in COVID-19 cases in the province.

That's for team sports, however. While organized sports and recreation are suspended, activities that are done on an individual or in-pair basis are allow so long as people follow the guidelines; practice and training and permitted for time being as well, which means indoor spirts facilities can continue to be used, but locker rooms can't be used except for using the washroom (a gray area we're sure to see people to take advantage of).

Masks are becoming mandatory in schools

Restrictions are increasing in schools.

All school staff—no matter the education level—must wear a mask at all times, and visitors are kept to a minimum; extracurricular activities like field trips are suspends, as well as room loans and rentals. Classes are expected to maintain stable group that don't change, and if they need to cross over, social distancing should occur.

At the preschool and elementary level, classes stick together, but no physical distancing is required. Groups can intermingle but must stay two metres apart in common area, and daycares are organized in a similar fashion.

In secondary (high) school, students need to wear face masks at all times both in and outside their school, and secondary IV and V-level students will be attending class in-person every second day. Depending on the course, distance education should eb available, but that depends on different schools and circumstances.

For adult general education and vocational training, students must wear face masks except when seated in the classroom, but staff needs to wear them at all times (unless they remain two metres' distance from students). Distance learning should be available. It's a similar situation in CEGEPS and universities, but institutions have stress that classes should be entirely remote; in addition, internships and labs can move forward and libraries' circulation desks and individual workspace can remain open.

Inter-regional travel is a no-go

As the Quebec government has strongly urged all red zone occupants to stay home this Thanksgiving, it's clear that inter-regional travel isn't encouraged. "The residents of a region or territory now designated as a red zone (Maximum Alert) must avoid travelling to a green, yellow or orange zone and outside Québec, except for essential travel (workers, shared child custody and freight transportation)," says the Quebec government's website.

For anyone in an orange zone—as Montreal previously experienced—inter-regional travel is simply "not recommended."

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