The 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will be in effect until at least February 8, as Quebec seeks to stem high COVID-19 infections.
Canada’s first provincial COVID-19 curfew will come into effect on Saturday evening, as the provincial government of Quebec seeks to stem a spike in infections and hospitalizations linked to the new coronavirus.
In a Facebook post on Saturday morning, Quebec Premier François Legault said he had ordered a curfew to prevent gatherings between households in the French-speaking province.
“I consider the situation to be critical and in need of shock treatment,” wrote Legault.
Quebec has reported more than 223,100 cases of COVID-19 and more than 8,600 deaths since the start of the pandemic – the most in Canada – and officials have warned that high infection rates during the second continuous wave are pushing the health system to its limits.
The province recorded a seven-day average of more than 2,500 daily COVID-19 cases between January 1 and January 7.
The curfew, from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time, will begin on Saturday and last until at least February 8, the Quebec government announced earlier this week.
Police will be allowed to interrogate anyone outside during these hours and impose fines of up to CAN $ 6,000 (approximately $ 4,700) for breaking the curfew. People will need a valid reason for being outside their home to be exempt, such as going to work or seeking treatment.
The Quebec government says the measure is necessary to send a message to Quebecers to follow public health guidelines.
But civil rights groups criticized the curfew, saying it could disproportionately harm vulnerable groups and lead to racial profiling by police.
“Our biggest concern with Quebec’s #curfew law is that its law enforcement officials have been notoriously overzealous in overcharging people during COVID,” the Canadian Civil Liberties Association tweeted on January 7.
Our greatest concern with Quebec #curfew The law is that its law enforcement officials were notoriously overzealous in overcharging people during COVID. So expect racial profiling + a disproportionate impact on vulnerable people – whose lives don’t fit perfectly into their home quarantine at night.
– Canadian Civil Liberties Association (@cancivlib) January 7, 2021
“So expect racial profiling + a disproportionate impact on vulnerable people – whose lives don’t fit perfectly into their home quarantine at night.”
Advocates for the homeless in Montreal, Quebec’s largest city, also raised concerns after Legault said they shouldn’t be outside during curfew hours because there is enough of place in the shelters of the city.
“What we would like is for the homeless to also go indoors. There are places for them, ”Legault told reporters this week.
Nakuset, Executive Director of the Native Women’s Refuge of Montreal, Told CBC News that there is not enough space to accommodate the homeless in the city.
“When the Legault government says that the homeless must also respect this curfew, where are they going to go? she said. “He seems to think there is enough shelter. It’s not even close to [being] enough space. “