Legault says he’s confident Quebec-Ontario boundary will reopen in ‘next few days’

The border between Quebec and Ontario, closed since April to reduce COVID-19 transmission, will likely reopen within days, Quebec Premier Francois Legault said on Thursday.

“We are in discussions with the Ontario government, and I am confident that in the next few days we will be able to open the borders,” Legault said in Quebec City.

The Ontario government recently extended its ban on non-essential travel from Quebec and Manitoba until at least June 16. Ontario’s Solicitor General’s ministry spokesman Stephen Warner would not comment on Legault’s positive outlook on the reopening of travel between the two provinces on Thursday. .

“The order to close Ontario’s land and water borders with Manitoba and Quebec remains in place,” Warner said in an email. “We will communicate before its end.”

As for the border between Canada and the United States, Legault said discussions are ongoing with the federal government about reopening it for regular travel.

Federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said on Wednesday that fully vaccinated Canadian citizens and permanent residents who test negative for COVID-19 will soon be exempted from a two-week quarantine upon their return to Canada. .

Meanwhile, Legault acknowledged on Thursday that his government has had trouble implementing its plan to accelerate the timeline for a second COVID-19 vaccine dose. The government had said people can rebook their vaccination appointments after reducing the interval between the first and second doses of Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines from 16 to eight weeks.

But on Monday, Health Minister Christian Dubey said only people who had received the Pfizer vaccine would be able to reschedule their appointments because of limited supplies of Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines.

On Thursday, Dubey said the government was working on updating the software for its online booking portal. He said the program had difficulties identifying people who had already received a single dose.

“I would say the best approach is to go straight to the vaccination site where you got the first dose, and when they correct the information to make sure it’s the right person, there’s a 99 percent chance you’ll be able to get it.” There will be another dose at that time,” Dubey said.

The health minister also said that the government estimated that it would take until March 2023 for the waiting list for surgery to return to pre-pandemic levels. About 150,000 surgeries have been delayed in the province, he said, adding that the number does not take into account those who have not yet added their names to the waiting list.

Dubey said he could not give a detailed timeline.

“We need to stabilize the situation before we can make detailed plans,” he said, adding that he hoped the fall would give a more realistic picture of the official waiting list. Dubey said he wants to start reducing the surgery backlog in August to provide summer break to health care workers.

“People have to understand all the challenges that our health care system has faced since the beginning of the pandemic,” Dubey said. “The system is exhausted, the staff have done an incredible job. Our health care workers must rest this summer, and it would not be honorable to do so.”

Quebec on Thursday reported 189 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths, none in the past 24 hours. Health officials said hospitalizations dropped from six to 251 and 64 people were in intensive care, an increase of four.

The province said 84,936 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were given on Wednesday. About 67.2 percent of Quebecers have received at least one dose.

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