Quebec Bans Outdoor Walking as Part of COVID-19 Curfew

A woman wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks on a street as the capital city is hit by cold wind in Beijing, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
AP Photo/Andy Wong

The Quebec government is imposing an overnight curfew beginning on Saturday until at least February 8, ostensibly to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Quebecers intercepted by law enforcement outside their homes “without good reason” between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. will be subject to fines between $1,000 and $6,000 (CAD), or approximately $850 and $4,750 (USD).

Quebec’s official website warns that people outside their residences must justify their travels — specifics of such justifications were not provided by authorities — if set upon by police officers in transit (translated from French to English with Google Translate):

As of Saturday, January 9, a curfew will now be in effect. Between 8  p.m. and 5  a.m., anyone will be prohibited from moving outside their place of residence, except in the case of exceptions justifying the move, for example to benefit from health care, for humanitarian reasons or for carry out work considered a priority.

Statements of offense may be given by the police to those who do not respect the curfew, unless their displacement is justified. Details of this curfew will be provided shortly.

The office of Premier Francois Legault, the province’s chief executive, is allowing people to walk dogs within one kilometer (approximately 3/5 of a mile) of their homes during the curfew’s hours.

Legault scoffed at opposition to his criminalization of walking streets or trails between the hours of curfew. Prohibiting such walks is “about saving lives,” he claimed.

“For people who say, ‘I won’t be able to go for a walk anymore,’ well, come on,” Legault said. “If you want to work a little bit later, you can work after 8 p.m. at home, and go for a walk during the day. We’re talking here about saving lives and we’re talking about saving our health-care system.”

In November, provincial authorities prohibited people living apart — including family, friends, and other loved ones — from visiting one another in their homes. The province also decreed that masks be worn indoors in all businesses and organizations.

Quebec also shut down businesses and other operations arbitrarily deemed “non-essential.” The province does not provide a framework outlining how distinctions between “essential” and “non-essential” are made.

The latest lockdown decree forbids people from visiting anyone else at another address while providing four categories of exceptions (translated from French to English with Google translate):

  • a single visitor from another address for single people (it is requested to always receive the same person in order to limit social contacts)
  • a caregiver
  • people providing service or support
  • labor for planned work

Churches, houses of worship, and other group religious practices are prohibited. An exception was granted for funerals, which are allowed a maximum of ten persons excluding funeral company workers and volunteers.

“The province acknowledged it can’t point to a scientific study on the effectiveness of curfews in limiting the spread of the virus,” admitted the Toronto Star, a left-wing newspaper.

Virtually all tweets from Quebec’s Twitter profile in recent weeks pertain to COVID-19.

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