The Quebec government is resurrecting the nightly curfew starting on Dec. 31.
The curfew will begin at 10 p.m. and end 5 a.m. the next day, and remain in place for an indefinite period of time.
“It’s an extreme action to take because the situation is extreme,” said Premier Francois Legault at a press conference on Dec. 30.
Legault added that once the public health situation is under control, the curfew will be the first health order the government will remove.
The premier also said restaurants are required to close their dining rooms on Dec. 31, and only provide takeout services.
The reinstated curfew, along with other public health restrictions, are due to rising COVID-19 cases and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. On Dec. 30, Ontario reported a record-high 14,188 infections and a total of 939 hospitalizations—an increase of 135 compared with the previous day.
Legault said the province is expected to report more than 16,000 cases on New Year’s Eve.
He also said schools, junior colleges, and universities will halt in-person classes until at least Jan. 17.
Indoor private gatherings are also banned starting Dec. 31. Places of worship will also have to close, except to hold funerals, with the number of attendances limited to 25 people.
“We have to act rapidly, the situation is evolving rapidly,” Legault said. “As deciders, we have the responsibility to act. We can wait for all sorts of studies and more details, but it’s better to act and adjust a little later.”
Quebec is the only province in Canada to have imposed a curfew during the pandemic. The province previously imposed a curfew effective on Jan. 9 in an attempt to halt the surge of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The restriction was left in place until May 28.
Earlier on Dec. 30, the research institute that reports to the Quebec government—Institut national d’excellence en sante et en services sociaux—released modelling that forecasts worse pandemic scenarios over the next three weeks, with “significant growth in new hospitalizations and the consequent occupancy of regular and intensive care beds.”
The modelling estimates that COVID-19 hospitalizations could be between 1,600 and 2,100, while the number of patients who need intensive care could be between 300 and 375.
The Canadian Press contributed to this article