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Coronavirus: Montreal seniors defying Quebec’s order to stay home during COVID-19 pandemic

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WATCH: The Quebec government has repeatedly drummed home the message that senior citizens are the ones most likely to be killed by COVID-19 and that those over 70 should be staying home. But as Global’s Dan Spector reports, many seniors are simply not listening and putting themselves at risk.

This article has been updated to include the official statement from Chartwell Retirement Residences.

The Quebec provincial government has repeatedly said that senior citizens are the ones most likely to be killed by COVID-19, and that nobody older than 70 years old should be leaving their house right now.

“It’s important. If you [are] 70 years old or more, stay at home,” Quebec Premier Francois Legault re-iterated on Wednesday.

Many seniors, however, are simply not listening.

At Plaza Pointe Claire, signs are posted on the doors, reading, “Are you over 70 years old? Please stay home.”

Even though the warning is clear, seniors are still flocking to the mall.

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“Well, you’ve got to live, you can’t crawl under a stone and hide,” said 77-year-old David Butler. He said he’s washing his hands a lot and trying to keep his distance from people.

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“I’m not going to give in.”

Ordering groceries by phone or online is being encouraged, with many stores increasing their delivery options.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Major Canadian grocers to offer special hours for seniors to stock up

“Oh yes, but I like to choose my own,” said senior Daimi Dahlroos as she headed to the grocery store.

“I don’t usually do anything online in the first place, because to me it’s unsafe and insecure,” said 69-year-old Michael Orgee.

Harry Schick runs Swiss Vienna Pastry, and said there are far fewer seniors at Plaza Pointe Claire than usual.

“It’s very, very quiet. Traffic is down by 80 per cent and at our store, sales are down by 50 per cent,” he explained.

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Schick himself is 70 years old. He’s working on setting up a delivery option for his store, but he doesn’t want to close yet.

“If I close up, 15 or 16 people are out of jobs, and how long can a business survive without sales?” he told Global News.

A bus from a Chartwell seniors’ residence was seen picking someone up from a trip to the mall. Chartwell told Global News their residents use medical services there.

“Our residents continue to require access to essential medical services and as you would be aware Pointe Claire mall has a number of physicians and pharmacy services that our residents rely on. ”

Global News observed many seniors still just going to Plaza Pointe Claire to shop or take a walk.

READ MORE: West Island initiative aims to send letters to seniors due to COVID-19

“We’re going to stay home now that we have supplies, yes,” said Allan Irvine.

“Maybe it’s going to take some time before people start realizing this is a serious matter,” said 65-year-old Alice Bresciani, who was waiting outside the grocery store for her husband, having refused to go in due to virus fears.

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Clinical psychologist Pierre Faubert said it’s hard for people to change behaviour when they have not seen the effects of COVID-19 first-hand.

“I think for most people this is still quite academic. We’re not feeling it,” Faubert explained. “It’s not like the ice storm. I mean you look out your window, there was no electricity — you couldn’t move.”

Now that Quebec has seen its first coronavirus-related death, the premier hopes seniors will realize why they need to stay home.

“We have a proof today of the importance of doing so,” Legault said. “We have a death and we think this person [may] have met somebody who travelled.

“It’s very dangerous.”