Virtually all indoor and outdoor physical training activities — with the exception of combat sports — will be allowed to resume in Quebec as of next week, deputy education minister Isabelle Charest announced Wednesday.
Gyms, arenas and all other indoor training facilities can open Monday, June 22, Charest said, adding that team sports will also be allowed on that day. Public and private beaches can also reopen next week, and lifeguard training classes can resume.
A maximum of 50 people will be allowed indoors together, said Charest, and players will still need to keep a two-metre distance from each other — most of the time.
“Physical distancing remains the rule to respect,” she said. “However, during team games, accidental and sporadic contact will be accepted.”
The only physical activity still banned is combat sports, Charest said. But even then, facilities such as martial arts centres can also reopen on Monday — but only for training and conditioning purposes.
Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province’s director of public health, said authorities are confident in their pace of reopening society, given that the COVID-19 infection indicators continue to trend positively.
“It has gone down everywhere,” Arruda, who joined Charest at the news conference in Quebec City, said. “There are still some zones in Montreal and Laval that are still a little hot … But we don’t have what we call, active community transmission.”
Meanwhile, Quebec reported another 29 deaths attributed to COVID-19 on Wednesday, for a total of 5,298. Nine of those deaths occurred in the previous 24 hours, while the other 20 occurred before June 9.
The province also reported 117 new cases of the novel coronavirus for a total of 54,263, and authorities said the number of hospitalizations dropped by 28 for a total of 690. Quebec says 22,549 of the cases are considered recovered.
Charest and Arruda recognized during the news conference that authorities can’t control everyone’s behaviour and said they are relying on people’s good faith.
Locker rooms and bathrooms inside gyms and arenas can remain open, for instance, but Arruda and Charest asked people to avoid using them in order to reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission.
Charest said managers of indoor sports and training centres have been given guides created by the province’s workplace safety board that detail how to operate safely.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2020.
Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press