Quebec's Council of Hasidic Jews submitted a court challenge on Friday against the province's nighttime curfew that has been in effect since early January, claiming it impedes religious rights, as reported by the Globe and Mail.
The council noted that the filing of the claim was driven by the Quebec government's unwillingness to change the current curfew rules to accommodate religious communities.
According to religious tradition, many Orthodox Jews are required to participate in evening prayers after sunset, and due to the upcoming change in daylight savings, worshippers will be only leave their synagogues after the onset of the 8 p.m. curfew in red zones, including Montreal.
“Evening prayer must be held after nightfall, which occurs every day 72 minutes after sunset. This is a practice followed religiously by the Hasidic Jewish community since time immemorial,” the group wrote to the court.
The beginning of daylight time will start at 2 a.m. on Sunday.
Remarking on what he believes is the absurdity of Quebec's stringent coronavirus measures, Council vice-president Max Lieberman said that residents of Quebec will be forced to choose between their religious practices and following the province's curfew.
“If it is permitted to walk your dog after the curfew, how can it be maintained that a practicing believer, who respects the barrier measures decreed by public health, cannot return home after 8 p.m.?” Lieberman said in a statement to the Globe and Mail.
“The imposition of a curfew less than an hour before nightfall and eventually after nightfall, considering the progressive extension of the period of daily daylight, constitutes a very serious obstacle to religious freedom of people whose religious beliefs require to attend a ceremony or a group prayer in a place of worship after nightfall,” read the council's court filing.
Quebec's coronavirus restrictions are among the most strict in Canada, and is the only province to have implemented a curfew. Quebec's Health Department indicated also on Friday that places of worship will allow a maximum of 25 people starting March 26.It remains uncertain as to until when the coronavirus restrictions will stay in place, since Quebec's government said they are continuing to study the morbidity rates to determine if a change in policy is warranted.