Montreal police issue 34 fines for violations of COVID-19 measures

Between Dec. 21 and Dec. 27, the Montreal police service received 693 calls, most of them concerning illegal gatherings.

Police received 693 calls about breaches of public health measures

Montreal and provincial police have released data on how many fines they have handed out so far for illegal gatherings. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Montreal police handed out 34 fines for violations of public health measures over the Christmas period. 

Between Dec. 21 and Dec. 27, the Montreal police service (SPVM) says it received 693 calls, most of them concerning illegal gatherings. 

Officers inspected 7,906 locations, including two bars and 7,873 stores over the course of that week. 

To stem the spread of COVID-19, the Quebec government prohibited gatherings over the holidays, with the exception of people who live alone and single parents.

Adults meeting up illegally could be hit with fines as high as $1,546 while minors aged 14 to 17 could pay up to $560. Police do not issue fines to children under 14. 

Quebec provincial police have also released a tally of fines distributed so far over the holiday season. In a tweet, the Sûreté du Québec says officers handed out 51 fines for violations of the public health measures and 604 warnings.

It did not specify how many calls officers responded to in relation to possible violations.

As COVID-19 cases across the province continue to skyrocket, Quebec hospitals will bear the brunt of the illegal holiday get-togethers, said Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious disease specialist at the Jewish General Hospital. 

"It's as if we're in the middle of a huge raging forest fire right now," Oughton said. "People who are working in hospitals and clinics that are frontline health-care workers, we're doing everything to put out that fire and we need people to do everything they can to stop the fire from getting any worse." 

Because of the dwindling number of hospital beds in Quebec, Oughton said he wishes the population would take the disease seriously. 

"Just because there's a pandemic, it doesn't stop people from having heart attacks or getting cancers or being in car accidents, and I think that's one thing that often escapes people's attention," Oughton said.

"If you don't guard the capacity to be able to manage those kinds of events, then what you will see is worst outcomes in terms of worst complications, and in some cases, higher rates of death from things that could have been prevented." 

with files from Jennifer Yoon

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