The Soccer Stadium ceases to be an isolation zone for the homeless

The Soccer Stadium ceases to be an isolation zone for the homeless

Hundreds of cots have been set up at the Montreal Soccer Stadium to accommodate homeless people.

After welcoming more than 300 homeless people who had to isolate themselves following a positive test for COVID-19, the Stade de soccer de Montréal is ceasing its accommodation operations, while the situation is now considered controlled within the homeless population.

The explosion of COVID-19 cases among homeless people during the last wave of the Omicron variant had forced the opening of 350 beds in the Frédéric-Back park building, located in Villeray–Saint-Michel–Parc Extension, on 13 last January. 

Until February 6, homeless people who tested positive for COVID-19 could isolate themselves at the stadium for stays of 6 to 10 days. 

Resumption of services at the Abri du voyageur

While the situation has since calmed down in Montreal, the teams of the Old Brewery Mission are starting to offer services again today in the COVID-isolation zone of the Abri du voyageur.

The Abri du voyageur hotel, which has a capacity of 70 beds per night, is the initial isolation site (red-orange zone) for homeless people with COVID-19, or at risk of contracting it. But the area, which had been set up at the start of the pandemic in August 2020, had changed its vocation in January and instead welcomed homeless people spared by the coronavirus.

The service offers a safe reception, lodging, meals, distribution of hygiene goods, support for consumption, liaison with pharmacies and the presence of workers to accompany people during their stay in isolation.&nbsp ;

17 outbreaks-still-active, cases “under control”

The number of people in homelessness situation for which the test is positive decreases, indicates the director of homelessness services of the Saint-Laurent Campus of the Old Brewery Mission, Émilie Fortier.

“After numerous screenings, and thanks to the adaptation and management capacity of the various community partners who had to manage the outbreaks in their services, in the middle of winter and in the context of a labor shortage, the situation is now more stable,” she says.

According to the latest available data dating from the first week of February and provided by the CIUSSS du Centre-Sud de Montréal, 17 emergency accommodation facilities for people experiencing homelessness still had outbreaks.

Of the active outbreaks, 7 are major outbreaks, i.e. with 24 to 140 cases. However, no new outbreaks are reported and 20 environments are “under surveillance”. The week before January 30, there were 26 outbreaks in homeless shelters.

For the person in charge of homelessness within the executive committee of the City of Montreal, Josefina Blanco, the pandemic and the Omicron variant have made the situation critical in the last weeks in Montreal. “However, we managed to leave no one behind thanks to constant teamwork, carried out in concert with the health network and community organizations,” she underlines. 

It is in particular the involvement of the Stade de soccer de Montréal that has enabled the proper management of the meteoric increase in cases of COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness during this fifth wave of the pandemic. 

The initiative was a collaboration between the Old Brewery Mission, the Integrated University Health and Social Services Center of Centre-Sud-de-l'Île-de-Montréal, the Agglomeration of Montreal, the Regional Public Health Department of Montreal and the Red Cross. “This would not have been possible without the support and response of key partners in this challenge,” said Old Brewery Mission President and CEO James Hughes.

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