Quebec Premier François Legault says the negligence of a few means the province has to crack down on public health rules in red zones in an effort to curb the rising spread of COVID-19.

“Lives are at stake. We want to keep our children in schools,” Legault said. “We also want to protect our health network.”

Aside from exceptions such as a visiting caregiver, the premier said people who host gatherings or parties are violating the law and the police will be able to issue fines on the spot.

New regulations for homeowners, protesters

If a homeowner does not comply when the police ask to enter the home, Legault said, officers will be able to obtain a warrant by telephone. He said warrants will be issued quickly, using a virtual system in collaboration with the Crown.

He referred to the warrants as “portable,” as they allow police to act quickly. People who gather in homes can be fined $1,000 per person. 

He said protestors who refuse to wear masks will also be fined $1,000 and those portable warrants will be used if needed.

Legault said all gatherings will be banned, even outside. Recently, the cap was set at 25 people, but the premier said that rule no longer applies in red zones.

“Police officers will start by trying to disperse the gatherings, but if people don’t co-operate, fines can be given,” he said.

Travelling restrictions between regions

The premier said people from red zones cannot travel to orange zones to eat in a restaurant and will face fines if they do.

Legault said restaurants will not be required to verify residency, but police can issue a ticket if they catch people dining outside of their region. 

He said people should not travel between regions to pick up groceries or run similar errands. Heading off to orange or yellow zones is acceptable if people are visiting a hunting cabin or something of that nature, he said, but they must bring all their provisions with them.

Legault made no mention of roadblocks, something that occurred this spring.

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said there is a concern about people going to other zones to gather, and in that respect, fines of up to $6,000 are possible.

She said the idea is not to issue as many fines as possible, but to ensure people are staying in their zones and decreasing the spread of COVID-19.

For now, elected officials from places like Charlevoix and Portneuf do not believe that barriers are necessary to keep people from red zones like Montreal and Quebec City out.

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