The Quebec government is imposing an overnight curfew and extending the closure of non-essential businesses for a month in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Premier François Legault said the stricter measures, which he described as “shock therapy,” will begin Saturday. Many of them will be in place for four weeks, until Feb. 8.
“The upcoming month is going to be a critical one,” Legault said at a news conference Wednesday. “We are in a race against time.”
“Unfortunately we have lost this race in the last few weeks. But we can win it.”
The new restrictions, however, did not include any limits on the manufacturing or construction sector, nor a prolonged break for schools — areas that have accounted for a large portion of outbreaks in recent weeks.
The measures include:
A provincewide curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., the first of its kind in Canada during the pandemic. There will be exceptions for essential workers and dog walkers near their home. The fine for breaking curfew will be $1,000 to $6,000.
All non-essential workplaces and businesses, including gyms and restaurants, will be closed. Curbside pickup at stores and delivery for restaurants will be allowed.
Places of worship must close.
Daycares will stay open. Elementary schools will open as planned on Jan. 11, but children in Grades 5 and 6 will be required to wear a mask.
High schools will remain closed for another week, opening Jan. 18. High school students and staff will be supplied with two government-issued three-layer disposal paper medical masks per day.
Grocery stores and corner stores must close at 7:30 p.m.
Indoor and outdoor gatherings with people outside the household are prohibited.
The measures don’t apply to the autonomous northern territory of Nunavik, as well as the James Bay region.
Unlike during the lockdown in the spring, Legault said manufacturing and construction will not be shut down, but he asked them to concentrate on work and goods that are considered “essential.”
More than a quarter of COVID-19 outbreaks in the province’s workplaces were identified in the manufacturing industry during the week ending Dec. 19, according to the most recent government data.