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National civil liberties association condemns Quebec COVID-19 curfew, private gathering ban

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Quebec brings back nightly curfew, other restrictions amid Omicron surge'
COVID-19: Quebec brings back nightly curfew, other restrictions amid Omicron surge
WATCH: Quebec brings back nightly curfew, other restrictions amid Omicron surge - Dec. 30, 2021 – Dec 30, 2021

A national civil rights advocacy organization has condemned Quebec’s COVID-19 curfew, as well as its ban on private gatherings.

Cara Zwibel, director of fundamental freedoms and acting general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said the government has presented no evidence that a curfew will work to slow the spread of the virus.

“A curfew is particularly problematic because it purports to empower police officers to stop and question individuals simply for being outdoors at certain times of day,” Zwibel said in a statement issued Friday evening. “The burden of these police stops is likely to fall disproportionately on racialized individuals and other marginalized groups.”

READ MORE: Quebec opposition parties say COVID-19 curfew a sign of government’s failure

The 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew came into effect on Friday evening, one day after Premier François Legault announced the measure at a news conference in Montreal amid warnings the province’s health-care system was at risk of being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients.

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“It’s an extreme action to take,” Legault told reporters, “because the situation is extreme.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: Quebec shutters stores on Sundays as province rings in first curfew weekend of 2022'
COVID-19: Quebec shutters stores on Sundays as province rings in first curfew weekend of 2022

Zwibel said the CCLA is also concerned about the province’s ban on private gatherings, adding the association would like to see the measures reconsidered. It’s also calling for the province to be clear about how it will decide when the measures are lifted.

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READ MORE: Quebec brings back nightly curfew, private gatherings prohibited, as cases soar

Quebec is the only province in Canada to use a curfew as part of its efforts to control the spread of COVID-19. A previous curfew introduced in early January 2021 was in effect for more than five months.

The new curfew has been criticized by the four opposition parties in the province’s legislature.

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Meanwhile, as of Saturday, the government did not allow Quebec residents to walk their dogs during the curfew — a “missing exemption” officials said the province would rectify as soon as possible.

The previous curfew had a provision for walking dogs.

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