Quebec to impose 'electroshock' curfew for 4 weeks, starting Saturday

Katie Ramirez
January 9, 2021

Quebecers need to be jolted into recognizing the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Francois Legault said Wednesday, before announcing a provincewide 8 p.m. curfew for the next four weeks.

"In the week we receive them, we give them", he said.

He said the impact of cancelled procedures is already being felt: breast cancer patients are presenting with larger tumours than they were before the pandemic, a sign that they're being diagnosed late.

Quebec primary schools will resume next Monday, and high schools will return a week later, meaning there will be an added week of online classes for high school students.

Quebec reported 2,641 new cases of COVID-19 and 47 deaths on Wednesday. Officials said hospitalizations dropped by 13, to 1,380, and 202 people were in intensive care, the same number as the prior day. On Tuesday there was 6,000 people vaccinated in the province.

Marie Montpetit, health critic for Quebec's Official Opposition, said if the curfew isn't coupled with more testing - particularly of asymptomatic people - and with improved contact tracing and more vaccinations, she said she worries it won't work.

Quebec's public security minister said she doesn't expect the province's upcoming curfew to have a major impact on people who are following the rules.

"If we're shutting down and consumers continue to buy, as they did during the last shutdown, they'll be buying from Amazon and they'll be buying from other manufacturers who can actually continue to produce", she said.

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"The market share that these foreign companies are gaining is there to stay; it's very hard for Quebec manufacturers to win them back".

He adds the transmission is coming from private gatherings.

About 27 per cent of active COVID-19 outbreaks in Quebec workplaces were identified in the manufacturing industry during the week ending December 19, according to the most recent government data.

Retail stores accounted for about 22 per cent of workplace outbreaks during the same period, while the construction sector was responsible for about 9 per cent.

"This measure will allow young people who do not have Internet access at home to have access to it", the government website reads. A hospital in nearby Windsor, Ont., said it had been storing bodies in a trailer unit for the last two weeks.

"To restrict the liberty of individuals so much, you have to have excellent reasons", he said in a statement. While they acknowledged that there were no big holiday parties, but people did visit homes in smaller numbers, which they want to stop.

Karl Blackburn, the president and CEO of Quebec's largest employer group, the Conseil du patonat du Quebec, said his organization wants the government to take a more targeted approach.

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