After daylight time came into effect over the weekend, Quebec’s premier says he is examining adjusting the nightly curfew in effect across the province to combat the spread of COVID-19.
François Legault told reporters Monday that he was in discussions with public health about the possibility of pushing back the curfew from 8 p.m. to 9 or 9:30 p.m. in some regions.
“We’re looking at that right now and we may have to announce something soon,” he said.
The health order is in place from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. in designated red zones such as Montreal, which has been hard hit by the pandemic. Earlier this month, authorities pushed back the curfew to 9:30 p.m. for Quebec City and most other regions when COVID-19 cases dropped.
Quebec is the only province to issue a curfew as part of lockdown restrictions aimed at reducing the number of new cases, deaths and hospitalizations linked to the novel coronavirus.
The measure has been in place for more than two months, but experts warn that Quebecers may be less willing to comply with the curfew as the days get longer and the weather becomes warmer.
The Quebec Council of Hasidic Jews has also launched a legal challenge against the curfew in red zones, saying it impedes religious rights. Orthodox Jews can only do evening prayers after dark, which would violate the province’s rule.
Legault also said the province is expecting to vaccinate all Quebecers who are 65 and older within the next month, which will “change the big picture.” That step will allow the government to lift more measures, he added.
His comments come as Quebec reported 594 new cases and 10 more deaths, including two in the past 24 hours, attributed to virus Monday.
The province has seen a total of 298,186 COVID-19 infections over the past year. Recoveries have surpassed 280,000.
The health crisis has killed 10,550 Quebecers to date. It is the highest death toll in the country, accounting for nearly half of Canada’s pandemic-related fatalities.
There are six more people in hospital for a total of 553. Health officials say 96 of those patients are in intensive care, a drop of four from the previous day.
Quebec’s vaccination campaign saw another 26,595 doses administered Sunday as the rollout continues to ramp up. So far, 744,108 doses have been given to date.
As more European countries suspend the AstraZeneca vaccine due to safety concerns, Legault said Monday that provincial health officials see no risk associated with the vaccine. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at the same news conference that none of the doses Canada has received are from the batch linked to the possible side effects reported in Europe.
The latest screening information shows 18,464 tests were conducted Saturday.
— With files from The Canadian Press