Life under curfew: Montrealers share experiences from abroad
The possibility of an impending curfew in Quebec isn’t as shocking to some Montrealers as it is to others.
That’s because many of them have lived through curfews before, whether they were stuck abroad at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, had to travel while it was in full force, or experienced one in a context completely unrelated to the novel coronavirus.
When the pandemic first hit, Judy and her partner Colin, who prefer their full names not be used for privacy reasons, were in the middle of their stay in the first country of three they had planned to visit. Lockdown measures were so strict that the curfew itself was barely noticeable.
“We got stuck in Turkey,” Judy said. “We were going from Turkey to Italy and our flight got cancelled within our first two weeks of arrival, and then the borders shut, which was OK; we had a really safe place to be.”
The pair spent nearly six months on the island of Büyükada, near Istanbul, which quickly closed to non-residents. Only essential service workers were allowed on and off, Judy said.
As the pandemic raged, Turkey implemented various lockdown measures.
“They did weekend lockdowns where you weren’t allowed to leave your house at all — only to get bread,” Judy said. “And there was usually a bread truck that went around and you could just come outside and buy your bread.”
They were under full lockdown during Ramadan, and were later allowed to go out a couple days per week to get groceries, she added.
Children of certain age groups were allowed outside on specific days, and seniors were largely kept inside during the first wave of the pandemic.
“There’s tons of funny videos on the internet of elderly people sneaking out of the house and police helping them back in,” Judy said.
And ultimately, the measures worked; there were only a few dozen cases on the island during her time there, she said.
As for the curfew?
“I didn’t notice it, I don’t think anybody was going out,” Judy said, adding that other lockdown measures might be more useful in the fight against COVID-19.
“I do know that the lockdowns in Italy and France and Turkey, (they) did help,” she said. “It was a sacrifice, but there were results.”
At the beginning of the pandemic’s second wave, Montrealer Olivia Lanza was in Belgium.
One of the first things she noticed was how strict hygiene measures were in Brussels compared with Montreal, though more non-essential services were open.
“While I was there I also went to a concert actually, but instead of it being let’s say, at Metropolis, where everybody’s standing up, it was in a room where everybody was sitting down. … We all had our masks (on) at all times,” she said.