The real point of Quebec's curfew? To stop people from seeing elderly relatives, says premier

Quebec Premier François Legault acknowledged Monday he's gotten plenty of criticism for the province's decision to reopen schools, and keep some industries open, while putting a curfew in place.

But he explained, for the first time, that there's a specific logic to the current regime.

"What we're targeting with the curfew, and we saw it over the holiday period, is there are far too many people in homes who are going and visiting those who are 65 and over," he said.

"That's why we put the curfew at 8 p.m. That allows us to reduce the number of private gatherings."

A few times in Monday's COVID-19 update, Legault referred to people over 65 and how everyone, including their friends and family, must make special efforts to keep them away from others.

"We have to concentrate on people of 65 years old and more," he said. "Eighty per cent of people in hospitals [are] 65 years or more, and 95 per cent of deaths" are from the same age group, he said.

Elementary-aged Quebec children went back to school today, in person, and Legault says he knows it's controversial.

"You have no idea how happy I was today to see the images today of youth going back to school, and primary school, with a big smile to see their teacher and friends," he said.

"I was reading certain messages.. there are people saying that it's risky sending people back at school. I'm not going to try to make you believe there are no risks. But it's a calculated risk."

He reiterated the government's earlier argument that there are "inconveniences" to keeping kids out of school, for their education and their social development.

There are "other places, and in Ontario, that say 'Oh, I wouldn't have sent the children back to school,'" Legault said.

"But it's part of my job to make decisions, and i think there are more disadvantages to advantages in leaving the kids at home."

However, the decision -- and the decision to allow some industries to keep operating, despite many past outbreaks -- was also based on the idea that kids, their parents, and most other people can be kept away from people over 65, Legault argued.

"Most of these people, they don't work and they're not at school. They are at home," he said.

"So our challenge is really try to have less gatherings at homes in Quebec... that's why I think that the curfew is the best measure to reach this objective, to slow the gatherings in homes."

He said that he wants to "implore" Quebecers not "to go and meet with anyone over 65 at home."

And babysitting? That's one of the worst ideas, he said, repeating a statement from last week.

"It's even more important for [children] not to see their grandparents of 65 and over," he said. "It's not a good to have one's children babysat by people 65 and over.. they can easily transmit the virus to people 65 and over."

And while it's very rare for kids to get seriously ill from COVID-19, "people 65 and over, they are at risk of having serious consequences," Legault said.

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