Quebec police forces carried out 2,206 visits to bars and restaurants across the province over the weekend to enforce public health directives amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said the government’s sweeping police operation was a success, adding the majority of business owners and customers are respecting the rules in establishments serving alcohol.
“We cannot allow a few people to sabotage the efforts of millions of Quebecers,” she told reporters Monday.
“Operation OSCAR” resulted in about 1,500 warnings and more than 90 tickets for those flouting measures aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
READ MORE: Quebec cases surge, officials announce new measures as Montreal declared zone orange
[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]
The tickets targeted people who violated physical distancing rules and didn’t wear their masks when required, according to Guilbault. Police interventions also targeted businesses that served alcohol past the midnight deadline.
“As you can see, those who do not respect public health rules are sanctioned,” she said.
The police operation also led to police to file three reports to public health about establishments whose activities represented a risk to public health. Five requests for hearings were sent to Quebec’s liquor board.
The operation was comprised of 30 police forces across Quebec. This includes Montreal police, Quebec City police and the Sûreté du Québec.
The police operation was province wide but included a focus on areas considered to be harder hit, including Montreal.
On Sunday, Quebec raised the coronavirus alert level for Montreal, Quebec City and some of its surrounding areas and the Chaudière-Appalaches region, to the orange zone. It calls for a “moderate alert.”
READ MORE: Quebec at beginning of second coronavirus wave as province reports 586 new cases, top doctor warns
As a result, the province also tightened some controls for those areas. This includes limiting the number of people allowed for private indoor social gatherings and reducing bar hours.
Guilbault, who is also represents the Quebec City region in the legislature, also appealed to people in the area to say she was worried about the growing spread of COVID-19.
“We need to make an effort in the coming days and weeks,” she said. “We need to reduce our contacts to a minimum.”
— With files from Global News’ Alessia Simona Maratta and the Canadian Press