By Kate Ellis 

In the eyes of much of the world, COVID-19 is no longer a threat. Masks are not required in most spaces, isolation requirements have been lifted, and many people can no longer access free test kits. However, the threat of the virus is something that still exists in our everyday lives, especially for disabled and immunocompromised individuals. 

You may be thinking: if the government says COVID-19 is no longer an emergency, isn’t it safe to drop protective measures? 

However, COVID still greatly impacts our lives. Even if you don’t personally know anyone who has been infected recently, people are still getting infected and dying of the virus, including in Quebec. Furthermore, COVID has been demonstrated to cause post-viral health impacts ranging from mild to life-threatening in many people, even those who may not anticipate being impacted due to age or health status. The possibilities of severe infection, post-viral health impacts, and death are particularly real for people who are immunocompromised and those who are disabled and/or chronically ill. According to John Hopkins Medicine, the best way to prevent post-COVID complications is to avoid infection in the first place.

Everyone deserves to participate in their communities, receive education, and access public spaces, regardless of their immune system functioning, disability, or medical conditions. And especially now that our governments, social services, and schools have turned away from facilitating this inclusion, it is up to us to do our part.

This guide will provide information on steps to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. This guide recognizes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and is not intended to impose rules on how you should be behaving. Rather, it is a collection of information and resources about living with the virus intended to help you make decisions that reduce harm and facilitate inclusive communities. 

Exposure, Testing, and Isolation 

While the Quebec government has dropped testing and isolation requirements for COVID-19, the threat of transmission has not gone away. This is true even when sick individuals wear masks, which do not entirely eliminate the possibility of transmission.

The People’s CDC, “a coalition of public health practitioners, scientists, healthcare workers, educators, advocates and people from all walks of life working to reduce the harmful impacts of COVID-19,” recommends taking three rapid tests, spaced apart by 48 hours each, after exposure to the virus or onset of symptoms. They also recommend isolating during this testing period to avoid spreading the virus to others. 

If you test positive for the virus, the People’s CDC recommends notifying all of your in-person contacts from the last seven days. They also recommend isolating for a minimum of ten days after the onset of symptoms and remaining in isolation “until symptoms have resolved and two negative tests, with at least a 24-hour interval in between tests, have been produced”. This ensures that you are no longer contagious and will not infect others with the virus.

For further information, including scientific sources for the recommendations shared above, you can visit the People’s CDC’s guide at

Safe(r) gatherings 

When hosting gatherings and using communal spaces, it is important to think about the potential for transmission of the virus. 

As a baseline, the People’s CDC recommends universal masking (with a high-quality mask) and moving activities outdoors when possible. Other ways to minimize the risk of spreading the virus include limiting gatherings to small groups, requiring proof of vaccination, testing ahead of time, creating more airflow (e.g. opening a window, running a fan), and social distancing., 

Online gathering options may also be more accessible for some individuals, including individuals at greater risk from COVID infection and their close contacts. Luckily, a number of apps and platforms exist that facilitate online meetings, board game nights, watch parties, and more. 

You may choose to exercise different levels of caution when gathering in different groups. For example, you might feel comfortable choosing to be more relaxed among your close friends whose risk levels and activities you are more aware of, but take more precautions in larger groups and amongst strangers. 

Accessing Supplies 

With governments reducing protective measures, it can be difficult to access supplies that help prevent the spread of COVID. However, some resources still exist. 

While the Quebec government no longer provides free rapid testing kits for free to all residents of the province, some individuals will still be eligible to receive these free kits. According to the Quebec government website, this includes full-time students aged 18-25, those who receive free medication under the public drug plan, and people who are being considered for antiviral treatment for COVID-19. If you have a child, you may also be able to receive tests through their school or childcare service. 

While masks are still available for purchase from a number of retailers, this may be a financial barrier to some individuals. If you are a postgraduate student at McGill, you can receive N95 masks from the PGSS (read to learn more). Procedural masks also continue to be at the entrances of most Concordia buildings (as of July 2023). 

Mutual aid groups, such as “Montréal – Tio’tia:ke – Entraide – Mutual Aid” on Facebook, are also a good place to reach out for masks, tests, hand sanitizer, and other supplies used to slow the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses. 


An important part of creating safer communities is advocating for widespread changes. In a world where COVID has become an afterthought, it is particularly important for those less impacted by the virus to contribute to the number of voices demanding more accessible conditions. 

Examples of this advocacy can include: Asking for more accessible learning methods in courses (e.g. requesting a class be streamed via Zoom); Urging event organizers to utilize strategies outlined in the “Safe(r) Gatherings” section; Contacting the leadership of your university, religious gathering place, community centre, or other organization to remind them of the importance of COVID protective measures; Joining an advocacy organization, such as COVID Safe Campus.

Let’s do our best to keep each other and ourselves safe!

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