Quebec’s premier announced Wednesday that he is imposing a province-wide 8 p.m. curfew beginning Saturday as a way to curb surging coronavirus infections and hospitalizations • Full Story
MONTREAL — Quebec’s premier announced Wednesday that he is imposing a provincewide 8 p.m. curfew beginning Saturday as a way to curb surging coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.
The province will become the first in Canada to impose a curfew for addressing the pandemic. More than 8.4 million people live in the French-speaking province.
Premier Francois Legault said that despite the fact that schools, stores and many other businesses have been closed since December, infections and related hospitalizations continue to rise. Too many older people are ending up in hospital after becoming infected in private homes, he said.
“We are obliged to provide a type of shock treatment so that people reduce their visits,” he told reporters.
Beginning Saturday and until at least Feb. 8, Quebec residents will be under a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., Legault said. He said anyone caught breaking the rules is liable to a fine between $868 and $4,732. The government is considering creating a document for people who have to be out after the curfew that could be shown to police.
“When we say we are giving an electroshock it’s really for four weeks, a period that should make a difference,” Legault said.
Legault said officials have been struggling to understand why the province’s cases have continued to spike despite restrictions, including the closure of schools. He said authorities concluded that the virus was being spread through gatherings in residences, and the curfew is meant to prevent that.
The premier said all nonessential businesses that he ordered closed in December will remain closed until at least Feb. 8, when the curfew is scheduled to be lifted.
Legault, however, said primary schools will reopen as scheduled, on Jan. 11, and high school students will return to in-person learning the week after, on Monday. “Our children have to be able to continue to learn,” he said.
Speaking before Legault’s news conference, Dr. Donald Sheppard, chairman of the microbiology and immunology department at McGill University, said the government needed to explain the logic behind a curfew because the majority of outbreaks documented by public health agencies have been in workplaces and schools.