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What the ‘Electroshock’ Lockdown Means for Restaurants in Quebec [Updated]

Restaurant closing times, takeout restrictions, and delivery permission as the province faces its first curfew of the pandemic

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As was anticipated, Premier François Legault confirmed yesterday evening during a press briefing that a curfew from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m will be imposed for four weeks, starting on Saturday, January 9.

The curfew is part of what Legault calls “electroshock therapy” for the province, where the situation is deteriorating as the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations mounts. Restrictions on nonessential services previously imposed, such as the ban on indoor dining, have also been extended until February 8.

Quebecers (excluding those in Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James and Nunavik in the north of the province) who defy the curfew without a valid reason, such as a work obligation, risk fines up to $6,000 by police.

See below for more information on what this means for restaurants and their patrons.

When exactly does the curfew begin?

Saturday, January 9 at 8 p.m. marks the start of the first night of curfew.

What does that mean for takeout?

Like the province’s grocery stores and dépanneurs, which must close at 7:30 p.m. every day to allow shoppers time to get home, restaurants must close their doors to customers for takeout by 7:30 p.m. at the latest.

Can restaurants still do delivery?

Yes, the government has confirmed that restaurants can continue to operate on a delivery-only basis after 7:30 p.m. While government officials have not explicitly broached the topic of third-party apps like CHK PLZ and UberEats, the Association Restauration Québec (ARQ) tells Eater these services have not been forbidden. ARQ president François Meunier confirmed as much in an interview with 106.8 FM Mauricie radio station on January 8.

What will happen when the police stops a delivery driver operating past curfew?

Restaurant delivery drivers and other workers operating past curfew will need to carry documentation justifying their reason for being out. Proof may come in the form of a signed letter from an employer; Quebec has published a sample form on its website. For drivers operating on behalf of a third-party service, the ARQ advises that they show their delivery route and any in-app notifications as proof.

When will these restrictions end?

Until (and including) February 8 is the current timeframe proposed by the government, but that could change if the measures don’t curb the spread of the virus.

Update: January 9, 2021, 1:03 p.m.: This post has been updated to include new information provided to Eater by the ARQ.
Update: January 7, 2021, 4:45 p.m.: This post has been updated to include new information regarding the documentation workers should carry when operating out of curfew.