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Montreal parks will close if public doesn’t respect coronavirus rules, mayor warns

Montreal officials expected to provide COVID-19 update at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Dr. Mylène Drouin, Montreal’s regional director of public health. announced new measures Wednesday to help contain the spread of COVID-19.

The city accounts for nearly half of the province’s COVID-19 cases. Drouin said the latest numbers show 2,097 people in the city have tested positive for the disease.

Of those, 132 are hospitalized and 26 are in intensive care.

There have been 14 deaths in Montreal, compared to 33 province-wide. Drouin said the victims were mostly among the elderly.

However, a breakdown in the number of cases by age group, posted on Montreal’s public health website shows that no one is immune to the virus.

The highest number of positive cases is among the 20- to 29-year-old age group with 380 cases, followed by those in their 30s with 374 and those in their 40s (357) and 50s (342).

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There is some good news though, according to Dr. Drouin.

“We do not have a significant increase in the number of new cases that have been declared,” Drouin said, “and the proportion of people that have been hospitalized or in the intensive care unit are less than what we have seen in other countries.”

READ MORE: Quebecers urged to buy local as coronavirus crisis takes toll on economy

Drouin said that all neighbourhoods are showing community transmission, and therefore new measures will be applied everywhere.

“Because we are showing community transmission, if you have symptoms, even though you do not have a confirmed result from the laboratory, it is crucial that you stay isolated for 14 days,” she said.

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The city will also be targetting the owners of condo towers and other high-density residential buildings where there are shared spaces, such as elevators, staircases and hallways.

“We’re going to ask the owners of those buildings to reinforce hygiene measures and to secure the access so that there are no more visitors,” Drouin said. “We are working with our partners to have specific interventions in those blocks where we know we have cases of COVID-19.”

Overcrowding in public spaces becoming a problem during Quebec’s COVID-19 outbreak
Overcrowding in public spaces becoming a problem during Quebec’s COVID-19 outbreak

Montrealers without symptoms are being asked, once again, to respect social-distancing guidelines.

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Earlier in the day, Mayor Valérie Plante warned that Montreal parks could shutter to the public if people gather there during the novel coronavirus health crisis.

Plante issued the warning during the city’s executive committee meeting on Wednesday.

“I am asking everyone to respect the rules and to not crowd the parks,” she said. “The last thing we want to do is to have to close them.

“But if it’s necessary, if the rules aren’t respected, we will obviously have to close them.”

READ MORE: Quebec focuses on protecting seniors, limits regional travel as coronavirus deaths top 33

She noted that warmer weather should be setting in throughout the month of April and will lift the spirits of Montrealers.

However, Plante stressed the public must continue practicing physical-distancing measures during the pandemic.

“It’s important that all Montrealers continue to do the collective effort we’ve asked of them,” she said.

Drouin reiterated the mayor’s message.

“If you go out of the house it is for necessary needs, if you walk you keep the two metres, if you go for a walk we invite you not to go into other neighbourhoods if it is not necessary,” she said.

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The pandemic has led the city to roll out initiatives to help homeless people, including creating new shelters.

READ MORE: Montreal races to create more shelters for homeless people amid coronavirus crisis

The city also remains under a state of emergency. The measure gives police officers more powers, including giving fines to people who are not respecting self-isolating rules when they were ordered to do so.

Montrealers purposely flouting the rules come as a “shock to citizens,” said the province’s premier.

François Legault said that Montreal police officers are able to hand out fines to people gathering in parks if necessary.

“All gatherings have to be avoided,” he said.

Montreal opens more temporary shelters to house the city’s homeless amid coronavirus outbreak
Montreal opens more temporary shelters to house the city’s homeless amid coronavirus outbreak