Health experts in Montreal — including ER doctors, epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists — are getting haircuts again and hanging out with friends, but many said it will take a vaccine before they feel safe going to a large wedding or playing a sport like hockey. CBC Montreal surveyed 170 experts earlier this month from a wide range of health-related domains to find out what activities they feel comfortable doing as the province lifts restrictions on economic and social life. Experts were also asked what they thought about the Quebec government’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak and how the province should prepare for a possible second wave of infections.
Their answers revealed a variety of opinions — reflecting not just the still-evolving science of the coronavirus, but also how risk assessment can be based on personality as much as on the data available. However, there were several issues around which a consensus emerged. Most of the health-care specialists surveyed don’t plan on joining a big group event, playing a team sport or buying groceries without wearing a mask for the foreseeable future. But a strong majority have already been to a salon for a haircut, attended a dinner at a friend’s place or eaten outdoors at a restaurant — or plan to within the next six months.
The vast majority of those surveyed said their personal rules are at least as strict as the guidelines set by the Quebec government — and more than half said their rules are a little stricter or much more strict. The questionnaire was conducted before Quebec announced its mandatory mask rule, which goes into effect provincewide on Saturday. Many of those surveyed wanted to see the mask rule brought in sooner. In followup interviews, several experts said now that it’s in place, it will ease their concerns about certain activities. CBC Montreal noted the limits and variations in its survey — for example, some respondents suggested a “not applicable” option would have been helpful in the questionnaire — and discussed its methodology.