While shops were allowed to re-open on Monday in the rest of the French-speaking province, Quebec’s premier Francois Legault decided to hold off on reopening stores in Montreal.
Quebec province has racked up more than half of Canada’s 3,900 coronavirus deaths and 66,000 infections, the vast majority of them in Montreal, which has become the country’s epicenter for the outbreak.
“I am informing you that we have decided to postpone the reopening of commercial businesses in the greater Montreal area by a week for the time being,” he told reporters.
“So instead of May 11 it will be May 18,” said Legault, who was sporting a new haircut.
“And before you ask the question, it was my wife Isabelle who cut my hair, so I have been respecting the guidelines, I just wanted everyone to know that,” he added with a smile.
The decision came after healthcare experts warned there were too few hospital beds to cope with a possible influx that could come with an easing of the restrictions, he said.
Legault said room for maneuver “remains very tight” in Montreal, noting that for the same reason he has not ruled out postponing the re-opening of primary schools and daycare centers, scheduled for May 19.
Quebec is the only one of Canada’s provinces to have decided to re-open its primary schools by the end of this academic year in June.
It is also the only region to have allowed retail stores to largely open up again.
The much smaller neighboring province of New Brunswick has not allowed a re-opening and on Monday marked its sixth day without new cases of the coronavirus. The 118 people who had been infected have all recovered.