(Quebec) The Legault government does not rule out imposing health measures on anti-mask demonstrators during this pandemic period, but it is currently avoiding all short-term interventions, fearing, among other things, of creating “martyrs”.
As hundreds of protesters gathered outside parliament on Tuesday to deny the existence of a pandemic caused by COVID-19, the prime minister said on Wednesday that there could be government intervention if the protests generate multiple cases of COVID-19.
But for now, he recalled, the problem lies with private gatherings, which are becoming hotbeds of outbreak. It is also difficult for the government to intervene with conspirators. “Do we want to make martyrs, between quotes, of these people? He said.
“Nothing is excluded depending on the evolution of the situation” about the demonstrations, “but nothing is foreseen in the short term”, added Mr. Legault.
The national director of public health, Dr Horacio Arruda, for his part, said Wednesday during a brief press scrum that he “is not happy” when he observes citizens gather by the thousands, without social distancing measures, while an upsurge in cases positive for the coronavirus has been observed for several days.
“It’s clear that I’m not happy, but I have to prove it [que ces manifestations mènent à des éclosions] to be able to act, ”he said.
Legal demonstrations, but “not desirable”
The conspirators do not have the support of the opposition parties in Quebec either. If all parties agree with the government that the right to demonstrate is important in a democracy, they call on public health authorities to give clear instructions to demonstrators to protect Quebec from a second wave of COVID-19.
“Gatherings as we have seen [mardi], this is certainly not desirable in the context of a pandemic. We must make sure that certain measures are put in place so that there is no contamination, ”said Liberal health critic Marie Montpetit.
“Yesterday I heard the Prime Minister say that [ces manifestations] are not outbreaks. [En même temps], let me doubt that the people participating in these protests are getting tested for COVID. […] These are people who are against wearing a mask and who do not believe in the existence of the virus, ”she recalled.
The interim PQ leader Pascal Berube wonders for his part why Quebec recommends that citizens avoid for the moment “groups of 10 people who [font] corn roasts or a fondue ”, but does not impose measures on the hundreds of people who gather to deny the existence of a pandemic.
“The right to demonstrate is universal, it is accepted, especially since these demonstrations take place in a very peaceful manner. […] It is only in a health context where I ask the Government of Quebec whether it is not a funny message to see large-scale demonstrations where people are very close to each other and obviously do not wear masks [et] the instructions that we send ”to the rest of the population, he said.
A call for dialogue
For his part, Sol Zanetti of Quebec solidaire asks the Legault government to quickly engage in a dialogue with the demonstrators by deploying important communication measures, rather than arriving with coercive measures if the health situation were to degenerate.
“We will not convince them by repressing and insulting them,” he said Wednesday.
Quebec must arrive with a “balance between the right to demonstrate and public health measures”.
“It is not because it is a demonstration to express a political point of view that it should be exempted from public health efforts. […] [Il faut] a balance between capacity [des manifestants] to mobilize and not to endanger public health and safety, ”he added.
Quebec reports three new deaths and 303 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, as the pandemic continues its upward trend in the province.
-With Fanny Levesque, Press