MONTREAL — Quebec Premier François Legault is remaining vague about when the COVID-19 state of emergency will be lifted, despite pressure from the opposition and civil rights groups.
Asked Friday whether the government would lift the emergency order at the end of August, when most Quebecers are expected to be fully vaccinated, Legault was evasive.
"I think that with vaccination, we can be confident it will be quite a bit more normal," he said about the fall. Legault suggested public health director Dr. Horacio Arruda is waiting for 75 per cent of Quebecers to be fully vaccinated to recommend the end of the state of emergency.
"I think Mr. Arruda says that it takes two doses for 75 per cent of the population … he's asking for us to be at 75 per cent in each age group," Legault told a news conference in Quebec City ahead of the summer legislative break.
"That's the aim, we think it's possible to achieve that by the end of August."
Legault said he doesn't expect a major resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the fall. "With the vaccination we are in a very different situation than we were last summer," he said. "If there's a fourth wave, I don't expect it will be a big one."
Earlier Friday, Opposition leader Dominique Anglade criticized the government for renewing health orders without holding a debate in the legislature. She said an analysis is needed to determine what emergency powers the government still requires.
Québec solidaire, the second-largest opposition party, has called for a special law that would give the government specific powers to fight the pandemic but would end the state of emergency that has been extended more than 60 times.
"It would be unacceptable for us to continue to live in an emergency regime, under governance by decree next fall," Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, the party's co-spokesman, told reporters on Friday.
The Ligue des droits et libertés, a Quebec civil rights group, repeated its call Friday for an end to the state of emergency.
In a statement signed by 60 other civil society groups, the Ligue said the state of emergency needs to remain an exceptional tool for exceptional situations and it's not needed now that the province is reopening.
Quebec reported 180 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, the sixth consecutive day health officials have reported fewer than 200 new infections. Officials also reported one more death attributed to the novel coronavirus.
The Health Department said hospitalizations dropped by seven from the day before, to 244, and 59 people were in intensive care, a drop of five.
Health Minister Christian Dubé said the province expected to receive 600,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine next week and 900,000 doses the week of June 21. Quebec has struggled with its plan to accelerate second doses due to limited vaccine supplies.
Officials said 98,455 doses of vaccine were administered in the past 24 hours and 77.4 per cent of Quebecers over 12 have received at least one dose. They said 10.9 per cent of residents are full vaccinated.
Bar patios reopened in several regions Friday, including Montreal and Quebec City, and bars will be permitted to fully reopen on Monday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 11, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press