Premier François Legault announced Monday that 740 Quebecers were fined between $1,000 and $6,000 over the weekend for breaking Quebec’s curfew. Legault has ordered people not to leave their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. until Feb. 8 unless authorized, in an extreme measure to cut transmission of COVID-19.
He praised the majority of the province for following the rules.
“I’m very impressed to see the solidarity of Quebecers who massively respected the curfew this weekend,” Legault said.
Of the province’s citations, 185 were issued in Montreal, 17 of which were given at an anti-lockdown protest on Saturday.
“Officers did about 2,000 interventions and out of those 2,000 interventions, it led to 185 tickets,” said Montreal Police spokesperson Manuel Couture.
Couture said officers from across the island were taken from their home stations to be added to a curfew task force to address the protest on Saturday.
“If they don’t have a home, the probability of them paying a $1,500 ticket is not so good,” said David Chapman of Resilience Montreal. He said he hoped police would talk to homeless people first, and try to help them before giving them tickets.
Montreal police say they stopped 122 homeless people in relation with the curfew, but gave only one ticket.
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“Police made an arrest concerning drugs, and this person also received a ticket for breaking the curfew,” Couture explained.
Meanwhile, several groups advocating for the homeless and other marginalized people gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin to protest the curfew.
They say the measure affects them disproportionately.
Instead, they’d like to see more resources allocated to helping people.
“We can mitigate the second wave but it means allocating those resources not to the police, to hand out tickets and fly helicopters over the city of Montreal,” said Mostafa Henaway from the Immigrant Workers Centre in Montreal. “It means allowing people the right to shelter… and actually putting those resources in inspecting those places where outbreaks are actually happening.”
Quebec provincial police issued at least 150 tickets just on the first night of curfew, with more stats to be unveiled mid-week.
Quebec City police say they gave 50 curfew tickets over the weekend, while Sherbrooke police say they issued 35.
Two of the tickets given out in Sherbrooke stunned officers. A 24-year-old woman was walking a 40-year-old man with a leash, as though he was her dog. Dog-walking 1 km from one’s home is allowed during the curfew.
“Saturday night around 8 p.m., our patrollers were patrolling the east part of the city and they stopped two individuals walking on the sidewalk. One of them was holding the other one on a leash with a dog a leash,” Sherbrooke Police spokesperson Isabelle Gendron told Global News. Both received tickets for $1,550.
Few people are getting off with a warning.
“No, we are not in the warnings anymore. Everybody is supposed to know that there’s a curfew,” said Couture.
In Chateauguay, a Montreal suburb south of the city, police say they stopped 284 vehicles and 306 pedestrians for curfew violations over the weekend, and issued 12 tickets.
“The majority of them have a valid reason to be out that is on the list,” said Chateauguay Police spokesperson Jenny Lavigne. “We didn’t give warnings, we gave tickets.”
Many of those who protested the curfew plan to challenge their tickets in court, saying they believe the measure goes against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of courts that will want to go against the government’s measures,” said lawyer Dylan Jones.
Jones thinks people who have wrongfully been given $1,500 tickets may be able to contest them. For people breaking the rules just to make a point against measures to fight the virus, he believes the odds of success are slim.