Coronavirus: Montreal police launch online system to report disobedient citizens

A Police officer tapes up the entrance to a parking lot in Mount Royal park Montreal, Sunday, April 5, 2020, as Coronavirus COVID-19 cases rise in Canada and around the world. The city of Montreal has closed parking lots in some city parks to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Graham Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS

Montreal police have launched an online system allowing citizens to report suspicious activity, such as group gatherings, amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In mid-March, the Quebec government announced strict measures around public and private social gatherings, banning them entirely.

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

The measures grew stricter as Premier François Legault ordered the shutdown of all non-essential businesses, putting Quebec on “pause.”

Strict rules extend to businesses that remain open, such as dépanneurs, gas stations, pharmacies and grocery stores. Pharmacies and grocery stores don’t allow people from the same family or within a common living space to shop together and ask clients to wash their hands — both before they enter the store and as they exit.

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READ MORE: Montreal cases of COVID-19 could be peaking, says public health director

Essential businesses now have arrows drawn out with tape on their floors, indicating one-way pathways, to avoid close contact. The same thing applies to wait lines at cash registers — clients are asked to wait behind a line and stand 2 metres away from each other.

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Cashiers can be seen wearing masks and gloves as they work behind plastic shields to protect themselves and others.

READ MORE: Grocery store employees are essential during coronavirus, but they’re scared

Quebecers have also now been encouraged to wear masks and gloves when out in public places where it is difficult to social distance.

As of Sunday, Montreal has 6,088 of the 12,846 COVID-19 cases in the province.

Amid the crisis, the City of Montreal announced on April 5, the closure of l’Île Notre-Dame, the Mount Royal park parking lots and the Atwater footbridge, until further notice.

The decision came after Montreal police officers noticed significant crowding in those areas, including the Lachine Canal where officers had to intervene.

Montreal police and Sureté du Québec can give a $1,000 ticket on the spot for illegal gatherings, both indoor and outdoor.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Quebec police get new power to enforce social distancing, consider new COVID-19 squad

The power was granted by the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales earlier this month.

“Anyone who commits the infraction is given the ticket immediately,” said Montreal police spokesperson André Durocher during an interview on April 4.

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In addition to strict provincial rules, the federal government said, according to the law on quarantine, travellers returning to Canada who decide not to comply with self-isolation demands, can receive a fine up to $200,000 and up to six months in prison.

To report an individual or a group that appears to be breaking social distancing, quarantine or self-isolation rules, click here.

— With files from Global’s Dan Spector


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