Answering readers' questions about COVID-19

The Montreal Gazette is receiving a steady stream of questions from readers about COVID-19. We are doing our best to answer as many as we can.

Here’s a glimpse into our mailbox.

Question: I don’t know where to find the answer to this: Can I drive to Georgeville (Lake Memphremagog) to my cottage, without stopping in Magog, and alone with my dog. I live in Westmount.

Answer: Here is what the Quebec government states on its website featuring information about COVID-19: “All Quebecers are being asked to avoid travelling from one region to another or from one city to another, except where necessary. Such travel should be confined to trips for medical reasons and work when teleworking is not possible.” Premier François Legault has been urging Quebecers to not travel from one region to another to prevent the spread of the virus. Last week, the government set up checkpoints on roads going into several regions to prevent people from entering, but the Eastern Townships is not one of those regions.

Question: I am looking for guidelines about going for a drive to alleviate boredom. Is this permitted if I am in my own car by myself and don’t get out?

Answer: The Quebec government has said not to travel between regions and that several regions are closed, as mentioned above. Premier Legault and his colleagues have also continually stressed that people should stay at home as much possible and only leave home for essential activities, like work (if you work in an essential service) and to get some air by taking a walk. But there is no specific order to not drive within your own region. In addition, there are reports of the police stopping cars and asking for identification to see if the passengers all have the same address. If you don’t, you could be fined.

Question: Quebec sent out a multi-page booklet detailing many technical aspects of the outbreak. It was unilingual. When I called and asked for an English version, I was told none existed … this has the potential to hurt all.

Answer: Here is the response from the Health Ministry: “The Ministère de la Santé et des services sociaux (MSSS) has sent nearly 4 million Self-care Guides to all households in Quebec.In Quebec, according to thepolitique ministérielle relative à l’emploi et à la qualité de la langue françaiseas well as the Office de la langue française, only the French version of an information document can be distributed by direct mail.A person can request a document in a language other than French, and such a document may be sent to them. In the case of the Self-care Guide, it is indicated in the table of contents that it is possible to have access to an English version at soon as you arrive on the site in its English section, the Self-care Guide — COVID 19 is accessible to you in one click.In addition, by April 13 it will also be possible to order an English paper version for free from the MSSS website as well as on”

Here is the link to the site where you can find the self-care guide in pdf form:

Question: Gyms are forcing clients to pay full membership costs while closed, adding free membership time only at the end of contracts.How does this benefit those that are obligated to uphold their contracts while being laid off and struggling for food/a roof over their heads during this time?

Answer: The reader mentioned the gym Nautilus Plus and on its website this gym does say that it will continue collecting payments even though it is closed. According to information on the website, “your membership will be extended for a period equivalent to the duration of the temporary closure.” The YMCA, in contrast, stopped putting through payments from members, most of which are taken via direct withdrawals from bank accounts or credit cards, as of March 23. Most members pay on a monthly basis. They also credited anyone who had paid from March 16 onward.

“As a charity, we felt that it was important for us to do the right thing for our members and to ease any potential financial stress they might be experiencing,” said Nehal Nassif, vice-president of health, fitness and aquatics for the YMCA in Quebec. “So we decided that payments should only resume when we are able to re-open.”

Question: The 811 number is always either busy or it rings out. How is thathelpful?

Answer: The Quebec government is recommending that if you cannot get through via 811 to call: 1-877-644-4545. In Montreal, you can also call: 514-644-4545.

Question: Where can I find the daily “blue poster” of directives that the government gives out?I would have liked to have had them since Day 1, but I can’t find them in English.

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