Montreal

Quebec mulls spring break roadblocks to prevent COVID-19 spread

Roadblocks may not be the only new restriction enacted during the spring break as the Quebec government is particularly concerned about the rise in COVID-19 variants, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault says.

Public security minister says government will do what's needed to interrupt non-essential travel

Quebec Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault says the government is considering stopping people from travelling between provinces and regions during spring break. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Quebec is contemplating the idea of setting up roadblocks during spring break to prevent non-essential travel to and from regions and neighbouring provinces.

And highway checkpoints may not be the only new restriction enacted during the upcoming school holidays.

The provincial government is particularly concerned about the rise in COVID-19 variants, Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said on Wednesday.

Thus, several different measures are being considered, Guilbault said any further restrictions will be announced next week.

Premier François Legault said if the government does indeed opt for new rules they would go in effect during the last week of February or the first of March, depending on the region.

Though Quebec has detected a relatively small number of cases involving highly contagious variants, Ontario has the highest concentration of the more infectious viral strains first identified in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

'Resources will never be an issue'

As recently as a week ago, the province indicated roadblocks were not likely because Quebec's police forces needed to focus on enforcing the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew instead.

However, Guilbault said Wednesday the government is determined to do whatever is required to keep the population safe, even if it means using "other types of professionals" to assist in the effort. 

"Resources will never be an issue," she said.  she said. "If the measure is deemed necessary, we [will] arrange to have it applied."

Quebec has roughly 15,000 police officers spread across the province.

The National Assembly's three opposition parties say the government should present its plans clearly so the population knows exactly what to expect.

"What I am asking today is to avoid confusion," said Liberal MNA Isabelle Melançon. "If it takes roadblocks, if we must prevent people from moving from one region to another, well, let's do it. But let it be clear."

Québec solidaire's Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois also supported the idea of roadway controls, saying the government cannot allow people to simply travel as they wish during spring break.

Pascal Bérubé, of the Parti Québécois, said the Coalition Avenir Québec government must stop worrying about displeasing the population. The time has come for the government to make a decision, he said.

No matter what Quebec decides, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated on Wednesday that border control between provinces is the responsibility of provincial governments.

"The provinces and territories may very well decide what measures at their own borders are necessary," said Trudeau, vowing to support provinces in the effort to prevent further transmission of COVID-19.

with files from La Presse canadienne

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