September 30, 2020 – Provincial government update on the COVID-19 pandemic
Here is an update on recent decisions and actions by the Québec government in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
On-the-spot fines of $1,000
Québec Premier François Legault confirmed that the police, effective midnight tonight, will be able to obtain tele-warrants from judges, enabling them to enter homes, if residents refuse them entry, in order to issue on-the-spot fines of $1,000 per person at a private gathering.
This measure has been added because the pandemic situation is “worrisome,” said Mr. Legault, and people’s lives are at risk, with the number of hospitalizations continuing to rise from day to day.
The deputy premier and minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault, added that the goal is not to pile on the fines, but to get people to follow the rules.
In pre-alert zones (yellow), private gatherings are authorized for a maximum of 10 people; in orange zones, gatherings of six people are permitted; while in red zones, gatherings are prohibited altogether. Including fees, fines could top $1,500 to $1,600.
Public gatherings, even in parks, will be prohibited as of midnight tonight in the three red zones, or the maximum alert zones in Québec, namely, the greater Montréal area, Québec City and Chaudière-Appalaches, while in the orange zones, gatherings are restricted to 25 people.
The police will be asked to disperse gatherings or to make it clear that gatherings are prohibited, regardless of where they take place in a red zone . Failure to comply could lead to fines of $1,000 for anyone who does not comply.
Other restrictions could be imposed
Premier Legault stated that the choice of which activities to prohibit in the red zones as of midnight was not made to penalize one activity sector over another, but rather to reduce physical contact and limit contagion.
He warned that, based on the evolution of the pandemic and the risks for the education and health systems, it is possible that other activity sectors could be subjected to new restrictions in the days or weeks to come. “It’s urgent to take action now,” he said, to counter upsurges in the contagion.
Mr. Legault said that “it would break his heart” to have to close schools again. He noted that 2% of classes are currently suspended due to positive COVID-19 cases. Given this, tightening the rules for schools in the near future is not out of the question.
Mr. Legault specified today that in red zones, while libraries and museums are closed as of midnight, people will still be able to borrow books and documents from libraries as long as they wear a mask and respect physical distancing.
However, gatherings and consultations on site are prohibited.
Travel between zones
Premier Legault reiterated that while it is not recommended that people residing in red zones travel to orange or yellow zones, they are prohibited from eating in restaurants in zones where they are still open.
While it is not recommended, people from red zones who decide to go hunting or to go to their cottage in an orange or yellow zone should not go shopping or eat in restaurants in these zones, and they run the risk of being ticketed $1,000, plus fees.