The Quebec government has tabled legislation that would ban protests related to the COVID-19 pandemic within 50 metres of schools, daycares and health care facilities.
The bill introduced Thursday would also apply to COVID-19 testing and vaccination centres.
The bill would ban demonstrations of “any manner” targeting health orders made under the province’s state of emergency, COVID-19 vaccination or “any other recommendation issued by public health authorities in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The law comes after several protests against COVID-19 vaccination and health measures outside Quebec schools and hospitals.
In a post on Facebook, Premier François Legault said he understands that restricting the right to protest is a delicate matter “but, frankly, there are limits.”
“What is perhaps most shocking for me is imagining how our nurses feel to see this,” he added. “Those women and men have worked tirelessly for months to care for people sick with COVID-19 despite difficult working conditions.”
People who violate the ban would face fines of between $1,000 and $6,000, with the penalty doubled if they threaten or intimidate anyone who is entering or leaving one of the sites specified in the bill. The special law would expire when the health emergency order that has been in place since March, 2020, is lifted.
Mr. Legault said Wednesday that he hopes to pass the bill within a day; however, that will require the unanimous consent of all members of the legislature.
The single elected member of the Quebec Conservative party, Claire Samson, told reporters this morning she has concerns about the law and needs more information.
“I’m taking this very seriously, but I need some time,” she said. “I need to ask my questions, I need some answers and I need to propose some amendments.” Ms. Samson said she’s concerned that the law doesn’t have a fixed expiration date.
Conservative Leader Eric Duhaime told reporters that while he agrees hospitals and schools should be sanctuaries, he’s worried that the bill just limits protests by people with certain views.
Quebec reported 754 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, and seven additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus as hospitalizations rose by three, to 283, with 90 patients in intensive care.
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