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MONTREAL -- The curfew has been a fact of life for Quebecers for months, but as millions of people gaze out their windows at a spring sun that's yet to set, many experts are casting doubts on the measure's effectiveness in combatting the spread of COVID-19.
“Because curfews are not solitary creatures, they are usually deployed alongside other public health measures,” said Jonathan Jarry of the McGill Office for Science and Society. “It's difficult to find out if they, on their own, really do work.”
On Saturday, protesters gathered in downtown Montreal to call for an end to the city's 8 p.m. curfew. It was the latest in a series of demonstrations that have united Quebecers of all political stripes.
The debate over curfew, however, has not made its way into the National Assembly. On Wednesday, Quebec solidaire called for an open debate about the curfew, saying it has disproportionately affected some groups more than others.
“Curfew has a different impact on people depending on their socioeconomic status and conditions of living,” said QS co-spokesperson Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois.
The motion was defeated by the ruling Coalition Avenir Quebec.
Jarry pointed out that there is some evidence the curfew has reduced mobility among Quebecers and that the ensuing reduction in contact means less spread of the virus.
But any benefits must be weighed against the impact on minority groups, low-wage workers and victims of domestic violence, he added.
“It's important to point out they have negative consequences for certain vulnerable populations, like people who are experiencing domestic abuse,” said Jarry. “This is one question where, unfortunately, science can't, at the moment, offer a definitive answer.”