On January 6, Premier Legault announced that beginning on Saturday, January 9, Quebec would be imposing more restrictive measures to curb the community spread of COVID-19.
The new measures were described as an “electro-shock” to the Quebec population.
For the first time in Canada since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, a curfew will be in force throughout Quebec from 8:00 pm – 5:00 am daily beginning Saturday and ending on February 8, with fines ranging from $1,000 – $6,000 for violating the curfew.
Grocery and convenience stores will have to close by 7:30 pm to allow their employees and customers to return home in time for the curfew. Pharmacies and gas stations will be allowed to remain open past 7:30 pm.
For employees who must work or travel to and from work past 8:00 pm, Premier Legault promised the government is working on a form to present to police as justification for being out past curfew. Until the government form is made available, employers should ensure their employees have formal letters detailing that they are allowed to be outside of their home for work to prevent delays and fines.
For restaurants, deliveries remain possible after the application of the curfew.
Feel free to consult a member of Miller Thomson’s Quebec Labour and Employment Group if you have any questions about the employee form or assistance in respect of same.
Closure of non-priority commercial enterprises
The announcement prolongs the measures imposed as of December 17, 2020, which means all non-priority commercial enterprises must remain closed until February 8, 2021. On site pick up of goods will however be permitted.
More information on what is considered a non-priority essential service can be found on the province of Québec’s website.
Schools and daycare services
Daycare centres remain open with the exception of drop-in daycare centres, which must remain closed.
Preschool and elementary schools will resume in-person classes as planned on January 11, 2021. All elementary school students must wear masks in the hallways and students in grades 5 and 6 will be required to wear masks in class as well.
Secondary schools will proceed with online classes according to the regular school calendar and in-person classes will resume on January 18.
Other restrictions on business activities
Remote work for office employees remains obligatory, however employees may be allowed to be present at work where their employer deems it necessary to ensure the continuation of the company’s activities.
Given the lack of detail on what is deemed “necessary” to ensure a business can continue to operate, we recommend consulting a member of our Quebec Labour and Employment team to assist in determining whether the presence of your employees can be justified.
Film and television production will be allowed to continue to operate.
For the manufacturing and construction industries, the Quebec government has asked that activities be reduced to the minimum required for fulfilling current commitments. Remote work should be favoured and shifts must be adjusted to reduce the number of personnel present in the workplace. The number of authorized employees is not yet clear and more guidance will be forthcoming from Public Health and the CNESST.
Enforcement of health and safety measures
Premier Legault emphasized the importance of continuing to enforce COVID-19 health and safety measures in workplaces to limit outbreaks and the key role played by the Quebec health and safety board (CNESST) in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring employer and employee compliance.
Employers should be prepared for health and safety inspections.
In the event of a work-refusal by an employee or the filing of a complaint, employers should act quickly before the inspection takes place. Consult a member of our Quebec Labour and Employment team for assistance in preparing for a CNESST inspection.
A month of confinement
While the government press release appears to simply prolong the measures imposed on December 17, 2020, the reduction of activities in the manufacturing and construction sectors harken back to the March 2020 shutdown. We will monitor developments and update this page as we get further details.
For more details, please consult the Quebec government website.