Quebec Casinos Remain Shuttered as COVID-19 Situation Becomes Critical

Posted on: December 27, 2021, 08:44h. 

Last updated on: December 27, 2021, 10:16h.

The Province of Quebec has temporarily closed gaming properties and other entertainment venues because of COVID-19 threats. There is increased risk of the virus in the Canadian region, given the fast-spreading omicron variant.

Quebec Christian Dube
Quebec Health and Social Services Minister Christian Dube, pictured above. He warned of the threat from COVID-19 as casinos remain closed in the province. (Image: CTV)

Quebec’s bars and movie theaters also have been shuttered. Restaurant hours were curtailed and are at 50 percent capacity.

Last week, Quebec Health and Social Services Minister Christian Dube said circumstances were “critical,” City News, a Montreal-based publication, reported.

On Sunday, the Canadian province reported 7,874 new COVID cases. The number of patients hospitalized was 614 as of Sunday. Some 109 of the patients were in intensive care units, the Montreal Gazette reported, based on recent government data.

Dube said there is a “very significant increase in cases,” as well as a “sharp increase” in the number of patients in hospitals.

Although our high vaccination rate is an asset, Quebec will not escape what is happening elsewhere with the progression of the omicron variant,” Dube warned. Omicron represents about 80 percent of the cases now found in Quebec, public health authorities told CTV, a Canadian news organization, last week.

“With the increase of cases and hospitalizations, we must put in place new measures,” Dube added. “It is war right now against the virus.”

Number of Cases Likely to Escalate

Dr. Earl Rubin, division director for pediatric infectious disease at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, further cautioned to the Gazette this past weekend that he suspects “the numbers will go up in the next week.” Holiday gatherings are among the likely causes for the uptick, and the province reports long lines for tests.

The province of Quebec has seen 538,206 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. There have been 11,667 deaths.

Beyond Quebec, some other provinces in Canada recently cut casino capacity to 50 percent.

Earlier, casinos in Canada were forced to close because of COVID-19. They reopened gradually as the vaccine became available.

Nationally, there are 114 casinos in Canada, according to the Canadian Gaming Association. There are also some 200 bingo halls or gaming centers.

Employee Outbreak at Casino

Earlier this month, a new wave of COVID-19 hit one Canadian casino. Quebec’s Casino du Lac-Leamy in Gatineau saw at least nine cases of the virus among workers so far this month, CBC, the Canadian TV network, reported.

The outbreak led officials to test workers at the gaming property. The employees are also undergoing contact tracing.

News of the outbreak comes after the same casino had not enforced a regulation this December for visitors to wear face masks, according to Radio Canada. The masks were not worn while visitors were on the dance floor, or when walking on the gaming property, the report adds.

It appears the COVID cases stem from workers meeting each other in a location other than the casino. Most of the impacted employees did not interact with visitors to the casinos. Many of the workers work remotely or are supervisors.