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Coronavirus: Quebec government bans public gatherings of all sizes

Coronavirus outbreak: Quebec government to enforce public gathering ban
WATCH: Quebec government to enforce public gathering ban

The Quebec government has extended the ban of all indoor and outdoor public gatherings until March 29.

Quebec’s Council of Ministers adopted the decree on Friday and announced it late Saturday evening.

While all indoor gatherings are prohibited, outdoor gatherings are permitted only if a minimum of two metres is kept in between each person, unless the group of people lives together.

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Other exemptions include gatherings in workplaces required to remain open, and for transportation, with a minimum of two metres kept in between people in each situation.

Acting on the instruction of public health, Montreal police officers have the power to disperse crowds.

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SPVM Spokesperson Véronique Comtois said officers will go where groups have gathered and ask them to separate.

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In extreme cases where a group chooses not to cooperate, Comtois said the offenders may face fines or could be arrested.

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She said on Saturday officers answered about 80 calls where they had to intervene.

However, it’s too soon to explain how the interventions went, said Comtois.

Premier François Legault is asking Quebecers to cooperate.

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Police in Quebec City arrested a woman who was infected with the virus and walking around outside after being mandated to stay indoors.

The arrest was the first time public health issued an order to Quebec City police under emergency powers granted after Legault declared a public health emergency on March 14.

Arruda said that regional public health directors across the province “will have no problem” ordering police to make arrests and ensure people carrying the virus are isolated.

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“Starting now, it’s clear that we will restrict people who aren’t respecting the orders,” Arruda said. “Especially if they have already been advised, contacted and we have information that they are walking around.

“It’s a question of respect. The rights of individuals stop when the impact on the community is very high.”

–With files from The Canadian Press