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Quebec to lift COVID-19 curfew on Monday

MONTREAL (AP) – Quebec’s premier said on Thursday the COVID-19 curfew he imposed across the French-speaking Canadian province in December will be lifted on Monday.

Premier Francois Legault said the order can be ended because health officials estimate that COVID-19-related hospitalisations are expected to peak in the coming days.

The 10pm-to-5am curfew was reimposed on December 31 after having been used for almost five months between January and May 2021.

“The wave of hospitalisation is expected to peak in the coming days. We’re going in the right direction but we have to remain very careful,” Legault said.

Legault also announced that the province’s vaccine passport will be extended to big box retail stores, except for grocery stores and pharmacies.

Earlier on Thursday, Quebec reported 45 more deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus and a rise of 117 COVID-19-related hospitalisations.

A nurse prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for distribution in Montreal, Quebec. PHOTO: AFP

Legault said this week adult residents who refuse to get vaccinated against the coronavirus will be charged a financial penalty. Quebec’s health minister said appointments for the first dose increased this week.

The federal government, meanwhile, said a vaccine mandate for truckers crossing into Canada from the United States (US) will come into effect today as planned, despite a previous statement from the Canada Border Services Agency that said Canadian truck drivers would be exempt.

In a release, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos along with the transport and public safety ministers said the border services statement from Wednesday evening was “provided in error″, and that Canadian truckers must be vaccinated if they want to avoid quarantine and a pre-arrival molecular test, starting this weekend.

The Cabinet ministers said unvaccinated American big-riggers will be turned back at the border, with the US preparing to impose similar restrictions on Canadian truckers on January 22.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations said up to 26,000 of the 160,000 drivers who make regular cross-border trips will be sidelined as a result of the mandate, adding further bottlenecks and potential price hikes to the flow of goods ranging from food to medical devices.