Quebec bans non-essential travel within Laurentians, Lanaudière, Outaouais regions and to La Tuque
Provincial police will conduct random stops, checking motorists to curb non-essential travel
Quebec announced additional travel restrictions within the province on Wednesday in attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The latest measure covers travel throughout the Outaouais region near Ottawa and between regional county municipalities in the Laurentians and the Lanaudière regions, as well as travel to La Tuque, in the Mauricie region. The government decree went into effect at noon, on April 1.
The regional county municipalities affected are Antoine-Labelle and Argenteuil in the Laurentians. In the Lanaudière, Autray, Joliette, Matawinie and Montcalm fall under the non-essential travel ban.
On highways leading to other regions deemed "vulnerable," police have set up roadblocks which will remain as long as the emergency public health provisions are in place. Public health authorities have said with these latest measures, provincial police on patrol will limit non-essential travel "randomly."
Pierre Winner, the general manager of the MRC of Matawinie, said that means temporary road blocks will be in place but will likely change locations from one day to the next.
"It's like during Christmas time when they check to see if you have been drinking — it won't always be the same days, the same time, in the same place," Winner said.
Unless people are headed to a medical appointment, getting food, providing care or delivering goods to someone who can't go out, they will be asked to return home.
Winner said regional officials are also working on a plan to ensure people who require public transportation for medical reasons, for example, will be able to get to their appointments.
Shutting down travel 'to the north', Premier says
During his daily briefing Wednesday, Premier François Legault said even though motorists may not encounter roadblocks, he is urging Quebecers to respect the guidelines.
"We must continue to follow our three priorities — don't go out unless it's necessary; if you do go out, keep your distances, and when you come home, wash your hands," Legault said. "That's how we will save lives."
The latest announcement of travel restrictions follows last week's declaration of eight "vulnerable regions" in Quebec, which saw police checkpoints erected Saturday to try to curb all non-essential travel to more isolated parts of the province.
Legault said there is still "no plan to close off the island of Montreal." He said too many outlying suburbs and neighbouring cities would be impacted by such a measure.
But by closing down routes that run from the city to the northerly regions of Lanaudière and Laurentians, "we want to eliminate travel between the north and the south."
In Saguenay, motorists are being stopped at the entrance to the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve.
Provincial police spokesperson Bruno Cormier said most people are collaborating.
"Of course, some are disappointed because they would have liked to continue their journey, but they understand there are rules they have to follow," Cormier said.