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Quebec rapidly passes ban on COVID-19 related protests near schools, hospitals

People who violate the ban can 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.

September 24, 2021  The Canadian Press

The Quebec legislature rapidly adopted a bill on Sept. 23 banning protests related to the COVID-19 pandemic within 50 metres of schools, daycares, and health-care facilities.

The bill was introduced earlier in the day and passed unanimously after a few hours of debate.

Under the law, demonstrations of “any manner” near protected institutions are prohibited if they are related to the health orders issued under the COVID-19 state of emergency, vaccination against the novel coronavirus or “any other recommendation issued by public health authorities in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Adult education centres and junior colleges were added to the list of protected places at the suggestion of Liberal member Marwah Rizqy. The government also accepted an amendment introduced by Quebec solidaire member Andres Fontecilla specifying that the law doesn’t apply to employees of protected institutions, who are allowed to protest for better working conditions.

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Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault, who introduced the bill, said the law would apply to parents protesting for better ventilation at their children’s school because that issue is related to COVID-19.

The law came following several recent protests outside Quebec schools and hospitals against COVID-19 vaccination and health orders.

People who violate the ban can 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. An amendment to the bill means the new measures will expire after 30 days, but the government reserves the right to renew them while the COVID-19 state of emergency order remains in effect.

Quebec reported 754 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and seven additional deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. Hospitalizations rose by three, to 283, with 90 patients in intensive care.