Montrealers are being reminded to maintain social-distancing measures aimed at containing the spread of the novel coronavirus as the warm weather sets in and some restrictions are eased in the area.
Quebec Premier François Legault said on Monday that he visited parks in the hard-hit city on the long weekend and noted the vast majority of people are following the rules, but some were not.
“It’s important if we want to continue to reopen our society, that we respect those directives,” he said. “So I’m asking people in parks to respect the two metres, and if they are close, also to use masks.”
Montreal police officers have been canvassing parks and green spaces since Legault asked for municipalities and police forces to crack down on rule breakers in April.
As of Monday, the police force said it has issued a total of 2,515 fines related to physical-distancing violations.
Insp. André Durocher said that police presence has also been boosted in areas where there were more people over the weekend, such as Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue.
However, he said that most Montrealers seem to understand why social-distancing measures are in place and respect the rules.
“I’m optimistic people are aware of the importance of the social guidelines and why we are doing it,” he said. “I don’t foresee any major problems.”
Montreal remains the epicentre of the virus’s outbreak in Canada. The respiratory illness has led to more than 22,000 cases and 2,296 deaths on the island.
Difficulties, confusion around physical distancing
Michelle, who lives in Montreal, said she keeps two metres apart from their friends and family while in the park, but admitted she finds coronavirus guidelines confusing.
“We’re just always looking around to make sure we are following the rules because the rules aren’t very clear so we are just a little anxious about that for sure,” she said.
What others find difficult is the lack of space that is needed to maintain distance from others as people head outside.
Sandrine, who is often on her bike, said she finds it hard to stay six feet away from other cyclists.
“There are so many people,” she said. “It’s impossible.”
The City of Montreal is converting some of its streets into expanded bike and pedestrian paths in a bid to give people more room to move around safely. Mayor Valérie Plante said last week the initiative will ensure physical distancing is maintained during a different summer in the city.
— With files from Global News’ Kwabena OduroView link »