Quebec, the province hardest hit by the pandemic in Canada, on Monday reintroduced restrictions to limit the spread of the COVID-19 illness in three regions including Montreal and Quebec City.
Premier Francois Legault said the closure of bars, concert halls, cinemas and libraries in these “red zones” would take effect on October 1 and last 28 days.
Shops can remain open but restaurants will only be allowed to serve take-out meals.
Schools will also continue to operate while residents of the mostly French-speaking province are asked to restrict access to their homes.
“What we are seeing for the moment is a significant increase in cases and we expect that in several weeks that will mean significant increases in hospitalizations and deaths,” Legault told a televised news conference, adding that “the situation is now critical.”
Despite existing rules on mask wearing and limiting social gatherings, Quebec recorded 750 new cases on Monday in what public health officials termed the pandemic’s “second wave.”
But the number of COVID-19 deaths in the province has remained low, between zero and six per day.
Across Canada, the number of infections has risen steadily in September with the return of millions of Canadians to school and work, after a summer break.
Its most populous province of Ontario reported a new daily high of more than 700 new cases, with hospitalizations also on the rise.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford warned that “this wave will be more complicated, more complex” and “worse that the first wave we faced earlier this year.”
The third Quebec region in the so-called “red zone” is Chaudiere-Appalaches, south of Quebec City.