The COVID-19 virus hits summer camps, daycare centers and festivals. Under the sun of a summer that seems to have returned to normal, it is silently infecting more Quebecers every day.
The Just for Laughs Festival thought about relaunching its program this summer with its musical in a big way Anne. But the nightmare of the pandemic decided otherwise. Shortly before the media premiere, the corona virus entered the scene. Everything has been postponed.
Shows in festivals and concert halls are being postponed more and more these days, but the extent of this wave of cancellations is difficult to estimate.
“This summer wave is very bizarre,” notes David Laferrière, executive chairman of the Professional Association of Show Presenters (RIDEAU). Nobody wants to endanger viewers or their employees, but nobody wants to lose “the extremely fragile relationship of trust that we have with the audience,” he emphasizes. This will result in cancellations or rescheduling of shows announced at its sole discretion.
Especially since the pandemic fatigue can be seen on their faces without health measures being imposed. David Laferrière estimates that barely one in twenty spectators indoors is wearing a mask. “It shows that we are not ready to live with it. »
But the rising wave is very real. The number of hospital admissions related to COVID-19 has been growing for three weeks. As of Monday, as many as 147 additional hospitalizations and 20 deaths were recorded. The latest report from the Quebec Ministry of Health and Human Services (MSSS) shows a positivity rate of 13.8%. Quebec reported on Tuesday that 6,659 health network workers were absent due to COVID-19, compared to 6,285 last Wednesday.
Quebec has stopped counting infections, but the sharp rise in cases is putting everyone under pressure. “It can be a technician or a musician. In a theater, a single employee is a contact case that worries us to death. If, in the context of labor shortages, there were to be even a limited transfer, that would put us in a lot of trouble,” says David Laferrière.
“It’s not an anecdote, but it’s not a movement either,” notes Martin Roy, President and CEO of REMI, the grouping of major international events. Cases “here and there” leave gaps in programming and add to the headaches of a busy schedule. “In the context of a festival, replacing an artist who is isolating for five or ten days is more complicated. »
These silent contaminations are “like other sectors,” he notes.
PCR tests in the camps?
The presence of the virus is also being felt at holiday camps in Quebec. Three temporarily closed their doors and sent the children home because it was not possible to replace the isolated animators.
“Often we can contain the outbreak, but it’s not possible to replace the animators,” notes Anne-Frédérique Morin, deputy director general of the Association des Camps du Québec (ACQ), adding the current work context doesn’t help the shortage. She insists that the ACQ “wants to act early in the summer so as not to impact the coming weeks,” and with that in mind, the association met the team of Quebec’s national director of public health Dright Boileau, Tuesday, early afternoon.
Several options are being explored by Public Health, such as reintroducing PCR testing on arrival at summer camp, as was done last year. There are also plans to increase the offering of rapid tests, change the case management decision tree, provide regional public health support to the camps and enforce the return of mask wearing in certain contexts, particularly for facilitators.
“We want to make sure that the measures are strict enough to prevent the virus from entering the camps,” said Anne-Frédérique Morin. The ACQ cannot say the number of outbreaks in the camps, but is actively creating a portrait of the COVID-19 situation with its members, including certain items that are “relevant to the population. General” are then broadcast.
According to the MSSS, facilities like summer camps are no more affected than others, but “reflect the increase in community transmission that we’re seeing everywhere,” says Marie-Claude Lacasse, media relations coordinator.
Not a “big” increase
During a press conference on Tuesday on a different subject, François Legault said public health hadn’t expected an increase in the number of cases, which would likely cause problems in hospitals, as the beautiful season helps.
The prime minister called on the population to be careful. “We’re making sure we’re ready for September because when the school year starts we should see a significant increase in cases,” he said, referring to the vaccination campaign that will start in August.
It is necessary to inform the population about the extent of transmission of COVID-19 in order to be able to live better with the virus, argues Nathalie Grandvaux, a researcher at the CHUM Research Center for Viral Respiratory Infections. “You have to provide information so that people can adjust their precautionary measures based on the level of risk,” she says.
Last week, the national director of public health, the Dright Luc Boileau, invited people at risk of developing a severe form of COVID-19 to “take the mask back” in crowded places like festivals.
Most major festivals in Quebec are already sold out.