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Executive Summaries Jan 7, 2021

What You Need to Know About COVID-19 Pandemic Curfews and Mitigation Measures in Quebec

On January 6 at around 5 p.m., the government of Quebec announced the imposition of a curfew on the entire territory of Quebec (except for the Northern Quebec region), which will be in effect from January 9 to February 8.

Save for some exceptions, citizens shall be at home from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. the next morning. In addition, the government has reiterated or put in place certain mitigation measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Balance is a good word to qualify yesterday's announcement made by Prime Minister François Legault. Faced with a constant increase in cases of COVID-19 among 18-64 years old, the government of Quebec believes it must act in order to reduce the pressure on our hospitals.

What will be the impacts on businesses, organizations and workers in health services, public transportation, construction and manufacturing companies? Our Labour and Employment Law Team has summarized what you need to remember.

What Should We Remember from this Press Conference?

From the outset, official texts from government authorities have not yet been published. As soon as they are, we will make sure to update this text.

Curfew Between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.

First, a curfew will be in effect from January 9 to February 8 across the province (except for the Northern Quebec region). This means that between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. the next morning, the entire population of Quebec must be at home, except in the case of workers deemed essential, for humanitarian reasons or to receive medical care. In the press conference, the Prime Minister wanted to specify the type of job covered by this exception, for example:

  • health and social service workers, 
  • public transport networks employees and 
  • pharmacy employees. 

Those who violate this curfew can face fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000, all under the provisions of the Public Health Act.

Companies Are Required to Maintain Remote Work, With Some Exceptions

Also, companies that have office work are required to maintain remote work from January 9 to February 8, except for compelling reasons.

For their part, manufacturing and construction companies are invited to postpone their production deemed non-essential and to focus only on handling essential products. Unless otherwise indicated in future texts, these companies will not be obligated to close and can therefore continue to operate. However, it should be mentioned that the government intends to increase the visits of the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et sécurité au travail (CNESST) inspectors to companies in order to ensure that health measures are properly implemented.

Companies in the supply chain can therefore continue to maintain their operations, whether their production is intended for Quebec, internationally or for other Canadian provinces and territories.

However, all retail businesses will not be able to receive customers until February 8, subject to two notable categories of exceptions:

  • Retail store employees will be able to go to the edge of stores to drop off merchandise ordered by customers in their vehicles;
  • The following businesses may remain open to customers in order to offer only the products deemed essential: drugstores, grocery stores, hardware stores, gas stations, food and animal supply stores, work equipment stores (safety and protection), stores for products necessary for transport and logistics services and vehicle repair services stores (except for the sale of vehicles), supermarkets and other sales areas offering customers a wide variety of product categories, but only for products deemed essential, convenience stores, florists, stores for selling products for farms, stores for medical, orthopedic and vision care products, stores for the purchase of post-secondary school material, stores for health products, housekeeping and building maintenance, SAQ and SQDC.

As for grocery stores, convenience stores and other priority businesses, they must close their doors at 7:30 p.m., except for convenience stores with gas stations, as well as drugstores.

Childcare centers and daycares remain open. As for the schools, elementary school students will return to class on January 11 as planned. For high school students, they will return to class only on January 18. Note that in high schools, the government will provide free of charge two procedural masks per day to each teacher and student.

Filming of television, cinema and other media productions may continue to operate, given the strict sanitary measures adopted. 

As for municipal libraries, these will be open to students as of January 9. It is not certain whether they will be fully accessible to people who do not attend school, but it is settled that any member of a library will be able to continue to borrow there.

Outdoor Activities Are Allowed

Finally, outdoor activities are permitted, but on a strictly individual basis.

In conclusion, it follows from the measures announced by the Quebec government that it is necessary to curb the contamination of people aged 18 to 64, this group having experienced a huge rise in recent days. However, the government is confident that companies are able to effectively control outbreaks in the workplace, considering data indicating that the number of employees infected by outbreaks has declined significantly.

We will keep you informed of any development that may arise. 

If you have any questions related to this decision, please do not hesitate to contact our Labour and Employment Law team who are available to assist you.

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