201006 Quebec
A pedestrian wearing a protective mask walks past the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Montreal: Quebec, facing a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, on Monday mandated the wearing of masks in school classes and the closing of gyms in the Canadian province’s worst-hit “red zones.”

Quebec, with a population of eight million, is the region of Canada hardest hit by the novel coronavirus.

The new public health measures come as it reported 1,191 new cases of COVID-19 illness — the fourth consecutive day above the 1,000 mark — and six deaths. They will take effect on Thursday, lasting three weeks.

High school students must wear a mask upon arrival at school, including in classrooms.

Some will also go to school every other day, alternating with online education.

The hybrid system “will have a significant impact because it will make it possible to reduce by roughly 20 percent the number of high school students who are on buses, on school grounds, in cafeterias” and in corridors, Quebec education minister Jean-Francois Roberge told a news conference.

Gyms also will have to close their doors. Team sports, matches and competitions are banned.

Last week Quebec reintroduced restrictions in Montreal and Quebec City to limit the spread of the COVID-19 illness, including closing bars and restaurants.

Guests have also been banned from homes, and police with a warrant are authorized to enter residences to check.

In total, Canada recorded 168,015 cases and 9,492 deaths as of Monday.