COVID-19: an exceptional restriction of freedoms

COVID-19: une exceptionnelle restriction des libertés

The period we are going through is extraordinary in all respects. First, because an unknown virus has spread rapidly across the planet. But also because we had to, to respond to the threat it represents, restrict our freedoms like never before. In just a few days, it was no longer possible to take a drink in a bar, going to dinner with friends or even go visit his grandparents. Heavy fines, citizens are confined, re-impossible in the face of a virus that is difficult to control : how to find your way among all these measures that have suddenly disrupted our daily lives ? The return to normal life, is it to soon ?

Progressive reopening : nothing is gained

Since the 4th of last may, the province has embarked on a progressive reopening of childcare facilities, schools, and retail non-essential. But the resumption of these activities does not change the measures of distancing physics : the distance of two meters between people who do not live together is still compulsory. The rallies remain banned inside and limited outside.

As elsewhere in the world, the government of Quebec suggests the possibility of a return to more stringent measures of containment, depending on the intensity of the second wave of cases of the COVID-19. For example, the government of Quebec could decide to close the schools or to re-establish controls on the road for some regions. As was the case since the beginning of the pandemic, it is difficult to predict what reserve the next few weeks.

The difficult reopening of Montreal ?

In the Face of the virus, which is gaining ground in some districts of the metropolis, Montréal has seen the maturity of the recovery of the postponed several times. While most businesses had reopened their doors on may 11, and then on the 19th, it is ultimately the 25 that the recovery will take place. Again, there is nothing to preclude going back if the situation worsens.

Would it still force you to stay with you ?

It all started a few recommendations : you return from a trip abroad ? It motivates you to isolate yourself voluntarily for 14 days. But, in the face of the rapid evolution of the pandemic around the world, the recommendations are quickly become obligations.

This isolation is mandatory is still valid today if you have symptoms of the COVID-19, if you have received a positive diagnosis, or if you have been in contact with a sick person. So you may be forced to stay confined at home for 14 days, and this, even if the shops and schools reopened gradually.

He will be able to challenge all measures, and the fines that accompany them ?

Party at home, a reunion of lovers who do not live together, groups of friends in the park : many Quebecers have received heavy fines in recent weeks. What are their chances of winning if they contest their tickets ? It is difficult to give a clear answer to this question, since the courts have not yet had to address it.

The role of the police during the health crisis also raises important issues. Although they have the power to remit fines to those who do not respect the rules of social distancing, the police must act in accordance with the rights protected by the Charter. One can imagine that several of these issues will be submitted to the courts in the months to come.

At the highest level, one may also ask whether the courts will have to consider the exceptional measures taken by the government of Quebec during the pandemic. Some challenges are already underway, but it is difficult to predict what will be the decision of the courts.

One thing is for sure : the after-COVID raises as many questions as the current situation.

Temporary Suspension of the time limits for challenging

Note that the usual 30 days to pay or dispute a ticket is suspended until further order since the 23rd of march.

Exceptional measures, fines outstanding

It is more than two months of restrictive measures were imposed to curb the arrival of the virus in Quebec. It is the 13 march that the government has declared a state health emergency and announced the closure of schools. Several meeting places were then forced to close their doors : bars, cinemas, theatres, libraries, etc. a Few days later, all non-essential services that had to cease their activities. The measures of social distancing are progressively installed. The rallies, the interior and exterior, have finally been banned and a distance of two metres must be maintained between the people who do not live together.

To enforce these exceptional measures, the Québec police officers have been authorised to deliver statements of offence of $ 1,000, plus the fee, to persons and businesses that disobey. These fines continue to apply if you break the rules ! You can, however, challenge these fines, as for any other offence.

When the house is burning

When we travel, we prepare its case, one chooses his clothes and everything you need for a stay in the best conditions. But when the house is on fire, the possibilities are limited : we can take the necessary that comes to hand, and it was assumed that the next few days will be less comfortable than what we would have wanted. It is a little of what happens in a health emergency like the one we live in, where exceptional decisions need to be taken in a very short time.

The Law on the quarantine

The Law on the quarantine allows the federal government to take the necessary measures to limit the spread of a disease. It is this law that requires a person to be isolated at home when she returns from travel. A passenger who does not comply with this directive may receive a fine up to $ 750,000 and sentenced to up to six months in prison.

The public health Act and the state health emergency

In Quebec, it is the public health Act which allows you to declare a state health emergency. This state of emergency may be declared for a part of the territory or for the province as a whole, as it has been the case since march 13. This exceptional measure may be declared in the event of a serious threat to the health of the population and requires immediate measures : for example the prohibition of access to certain territories, or even the closure of schools, bars, shops, etc., The state of public health emergency, however, is not infinite : it has to be renewed every 10 days by the government.

Containment is not mandatory generally respected by the population

To “flatten the curve” of the pandemic, the message has very quickly been clear and repeated on a daily basis : stay home. But unlike other States around the world, there has never been any question in Quebec to make the containment mandatory for the entire population.

The people who have returned from overseas, who have symptoms, or who have received a positive diagnosis at the COVID-19 have the obligation to be isolated for 14 days. For others, it has always been “highly recommended” staying at home, without ever be mandatory. Despite the absence of any prohibition to go out, a study from Google showed at the beginning of April than it is in Quebec that the population respected the better the containment in all of North America !

COVID-19: une exceptionnelle restriction des libertés

Informational text – This text is not legal advice; it is recommended to consult with a lawyer or a notary public to such a notice. Éducaloi is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inform Quebecers of their rights and obligations in a clear language”.

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