Go to main menu Go to main content Go to footer

Voices ᐋ ᐄᔮᔨᐧᒫᓂᐧᐃᒡ

The Covid bandwagon

BY Lyle Stewart Jan 15, 2022

I feel like I jumped on a bandwagon. After almost two years of avoiding Covid, following the rules, getting vaccinated twice and chomping at the bit for a third dose… I joined the mob by getting sick a week before Christmas.

It’s not surprising – most of us know people who are being infected or have caught the virus themselves. The Omicron variant is so contagious that very little could have been done to prevent this wave. 

It meant for a lonely holiday, but the illness itself was no more than an average flu – a couple days of fever and headache, then a few more of feeling like I had a cold. That, no doubt, is because an Omicron illness is proving less severe than previous (though far less contagious) variants, but certainly because I have been vaccinated.

The fact many have chosen not to be vaccinated, however, is costing all of us. People deluded by misinformation on social media are overwhelming our healthcare system, filling hospital beds beyond capacity and causing long delays in essential treatment for other serious health problems. That is why we are now once again facing such severe restrictions in our normal lives.

It’s understandable that the Legault government has responded with another lockdown. However, his insistence on treating the vast majority – those of us who have followed the rules, been social distancing, wearing masks and getting dosed – as children by enforcing a curfew, is wrong.

It is not only wrong, but also counterproductive. The curfew feeds the pandemic. 

It’s telling that no other government in North America has enacted a curfew. But François Legault’s model is France, which he slavishly apes in many of his policies, including making laws that tell women what they may or may not wear. 

However, Legault is unable to justify its effectiveness to fight the pandemic. Asked during his press conference after Christmas why he imposed a curfew, he responded nonsensically: “Because there is a private healthcare system in the United States.” Huh?

A Quebec government website defends the curfew by posting links to studies on how the curfew affects infection rates. I’ve read several of them. And, except for those that rely on conjecture or opinion, the data shows that curfews cause higher infection rates. 

A curfew is an extreme limit on our fundamental freedoms, and Quebec has imposed fines of $1,00 to $6,000 for anyone who wants to take a walk outside after 10 pm. Being outside, alone or with a family member, is the safest place to be, in fact. Proven transmission from outdoor activities is so rare as to be unheard of.

As one of the studies from France the Legault government references, ironically, to justify its curfew says, “The data show that this measure can lead to the opposite effect from that intended due to larger groups of people on the authorized hours.” 

Here in Montreal, we’ve all seen this in crammed grocery stores as people frantically try to shop and get home in time to avoid thousands of dollars in fines.

A Norwegian study points out, “High infection rates, and the fact that other measures are considered insufficient, are based on medical professional knowledge, but the knowledge of the infection situation does not provide professional, empirical or scientific evidence that can justify the introduction of a curfew.”

It’s time François Legault took a step back from his father-knows-best tendencies. Stop treating us like children, stop infringing unjustifiably on our fundamental rights, and end a policy that causes even more Covid infections. Legault needs to jump on the bandwagon here in North America and withdraw the curfew.

LATEST ᒫᐦᒡ ᑎᐹᒋᒧᐧᐃᓐ

Lyle Stewart has been working as a journalist for over 30 years. He believes that information is the ultimate check on the abuse of power and that independent media outlets such as the Nation are crucial to democratic governance.