Curfew and Confinement: What You Need to Know

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As of January 9, 2021, all of Québec, except the Cree Territory of James Bay and Nunavik, has been declared a “red zone”. Here’s a summary of the restrictions currently in force in Quebec.

Mandatory curfew from 8 pm to 5 am

A mandatory curfew is in force every day from 8 pm to 5 am. It is therefore forbidden to be outside your home (and surrounding land, if applicable) during this time.  

However, the following exceptions are permitted:

  • a person carrying our work designated as essential including transporting goods
  • a person going to a pharmacy to obtain medication, a hygienic or sanitary product, or to receive a professional service
  • a student who must participate in a face-to-face class or go to a laboratory in a recognized school or post-secondary institution
  • a person who must go to or return from a hospital, clinic, or a dentist’s or optometrist’s office
  • a person travelling to give blood under the supervision of Héma-Québec.
  • a person who must assist a sick or injured parent
  • a person who must provide care for a child or a vulnerable person
  • a person visiting someone who is at end-of-life
  • a person acting in an urgent situation (for example, to escape a violent household)
  • a person who must travel to comply with a court judgment or to comply with a summons to appear as a witness before a court
  • a parent in a situation of joint custody who must accompany children to the home of the other parent
  • a person who is going to take an inter-regional or inter-provincial bus, train or plane, or who is returning home from such a trip
  • a person who is obtaining a product or service for the operation of a vehicle, or purchasing food (but not alcohol) at a gas station, but only if they are outside of their home for one of the permitted exceptions. In other words, you can’t go outside just to go to a gas station.
  • a person accompanying someone who needs assistance in one of the situations listed above or helping them return home
  • a person walking their dog, within one kilometre of their residence

If you are stopped by police outside your home during the curfew, and you are unable to show that you meet one of the above exceptions, you could receive a fine of 1000$ to 6000$ plus costs. For minors who are 14 or over, the fine is $500 plus costs.

Therefore, if you are stopped by police, you must show that you meet one of the above-mentioned exceptions. To help you prove you’re allowed to be outside during curfew, it’s helpful to have a document, such as a letter from your employer. To assist employers with this, the government offers a downloadable form entitled Employer Attestation Concerning Travel During the Curfew Decreed by the Gouvernement du Québec . To access the form, click on that link and then click on “Download the form”.

Reduced hours for businesses, restaurants and outdoor activity facilities during the curfew

To ensure respect of the curfew, which starts at 8 pm, businesses and outdoor activity facilities (such as downhill ski centres offering night skiing) must close by 7:30 pm.

This measure applies to all businesses (including take-out food services, drive-through services and stores). However, it does not apply to pharmacies for the sale of medications and other essential products nor to gas stations for the sale of food, gas, and products for the operation of a vehicle.

You can still order food, however, since restaurant deliveries are permitted during the curfew.

Private and public gatherings

With few exceptions (explained below) public and private gatherings are prohibited.

Private residences

Only the persons living in that private residence are allowed to be there (or on the surrounding land, if applicable).

However, there are some exceptions:

  • a person living alone can receive a visitor. They can only receive one person at a time, and it is recommended that it always be the same person.
  • anyone can receive the following visitors in their home:
    • an informal caregiver
    • individuals offering residential maintenance or repair services,
    • a visitor for a potential rental or sale of a residence

Spouses who do not live together can see each other but cannot be accompanied by their children. When they do not have their children with them, they can visit each other and sleep over at either the other’s residence. However, they cannot travel during the curfew. The Quebec government’s website mentions that this measure applies until February 8, 2021.

Demonstrations and funerals

In general, outdoor gatherings are prohibited in public areas. However, demonstrations are permitted. Participants must respect the curfew and wear masks.

Indoor gatherings, in both public and private spaces, are also generally prohibited. Therefore, it is no longer possible to meet in a place of worship. However, funerals are permitted, with a maximum of 25 participants.

The funeral organizer must keep a record of attendance. Each participant must provide certain information, which may be transmitted to public health authorities in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak. This information is deleted after 30 days.

Sports and recreation

Indoor sports facilities (gyms, swimming pools, arenas, etc.) are closed, except for certain professional athletes and sports and physical education classes in schools.

Organized sports (with a coach or in a team) are prohibited. However, individual outdoor activities, such as walking, skiing or skating, are permitted. They must only be carried out individually or with members of the same household.

If you live alone, you can also participate in outdoor activities with one other person, for example, taking a walk with them. You must respect social distancing of two metres at all times.

Group activities with persons outside your household are prohibited.

Essential businesses can remain open

Only the following businesses have been designated as “priority” (essential) and can remain open to receive clients:

  • grocery stores and other stores selling food
  • pharmacies, but only for everyday essentials
  • hardware stores, but only for products necessary for external maintenance, repairs or construction
  • gas stations
  • pet food and supply stores (however, grooming and esthetic services for pets are not permitted)
  • work-related safety and protective equipment stores
  • florists
  • businesses that sell products, parts, and other material necessary for transportation and logistics services and vehicle repair or maintenance, including vehicle repair and maintenance centres, but excluding the sale of vehicles
  • convenience stores (dépanneurs)
  • farm product stores
  • medical, orthopedic, and eye care supply stores
  • janitorial and building product stores
  • big-box stores and other sales areas offering customers a wide variety of categories of products. However, they are only permitted to sell essential products. This excludes toys, clothing, books, electronic devices, decorative items, cookware, and electric household appliances.
  • the Société des alcools du Québec (liquor commission) et the Société québécoise du cannabis (cannabis store)

For the full list, consult the List of priority commercial enterprises.

People can only use the open areas of shopping malls to go to stores that are permitted to operate at this time. Businesses that have not been designated priority cannot receive clients. However, they can do online or telephone sales and offer delivery or pick-up outside the store.

Restaurants and food courts in shopping malls can only offer delivery, pick-up orders and drive-through services. During curfew, only food delivery is permitted.

A retail store can also offer repair services for computer and electronic equipment, repair and rental of sports equipment, and rental of tools. So, if your laptop breaks down, you could have it repaired. You could also have your skates sharpened.

Libraries: limited services

All libraries can offer services to take out books. However, the individual reading spaces in libraries are reserved for students.

In the workplace

In both the private and public sectors, teleworking (remote work) is mandatory for people working in offices, except for workers whose employers deem their presence essential for the organization’s activities.

Manufacturers and construction companies must reduce their activities to the minimum necessary to complete commitments. They should adjust work shifts to limit the number of people at work at the same time.