Coronavirus: Would you report your neighbours for gathering in public during COVID-19 crisis?

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WATCH: Public Health officials and politicians keep reminding Quebecers to apply social distancing. Group gatherings are no longer tolerated but not everyone is listening. As Global’s Dan Spector reports, one Montreal suburb is asking its residents to report on those flouting the rules – Mar 26, 2020

Public health officials, doctors and politicians have been reminding Quebecers to apply social distancing.

Group gatherings are no longer tolerated, as keeping people apart is vital to slowing the spread of COVID-19. But if you see people gathering, would you report them?

The Montreal suburb of Dollard-des-Ormeaux wants you to do just that.

“If you see a bunch of kids coming together, playing a soccer game, a football game, we can’t be doing that at this time,” said D.D.O. mayor Alex Bottausci.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Quebec government bans public gatherings of all sizes

According to Bottausci, people have been getting together in local parks.

“I got a call from someone I know who told me ‘there’s three or four families from different streets, and they’re all hugging and kissing each other in the middle of the field and their kids are playing in the park equipment.’ This is not a time for this!”

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That’s why he posted a message online asking residents to tell the city if they see people gathering in parks.

“If you live in front of a park, call public security and you can be one of our volunteer park monitors during this time,” Bottausci told Global News.

He said he has family in Italy, one of the countries worst hit by COVID-19. Bottausci said he doesn’t want to see his what has happened there happen in Montreal.

So will residents heed his call?

“I think I would have to. I think I would, reluctantly,” said D.D.O resident Janice Hughes, as she walked her dog in Centennial Park.

“For the safety of the community, I would,” said Jose Jimenez as he took a walk in the park.

READ MORE: Quebec seeks volunteers during health crisis as coronavirus deaths climb to 8

Meanwhile, Montreal police continue to receive calls from concerned residents sounding the alarm about gatherings, though they would not say how many.

“The calls we’re getting, it shows social awareness and that people are getting the message,” said Montreal Police spokesperson André Durocher.

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On Wednesday, Gatineau Police wrote on Twitter that they had issued a $1,000 fine related to a noisy party in a private residence.

Criminal defence lawyer Philip Schneider says exorbitant fines for gatherings are totally allowed under the current public health emergency.

“The minimum fine is $1,000, and the maximum is $6,000. If the person is stupid enough to do it a second time, the minimum fine is $2,000, and the maximum is $12,000,” he said.

Montreal police have been asking people to disperse rather than fining them. Durocher said fines would only be given in an “extreme case” where the people gathering refused to disperse.

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If your neighbour was breaking the rules and clearly having a party at their house, would you call the authorities and rat them out?

“I guess I would call. We have to do what we have to do for the community,” said Jimenez.

“It’s a tough call, but yeah, I probably would,” said D.D.O. resident Noah Streicher.

If you are not sick or returning from abroad, authorities say to take walks or go for a jog, but there are no gatherings allowed.