Gatineau police issue 21 tickets linked to 1st night of Quebec curfew
New restrictions mean residents must stay inside between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Saturday evening marked the start of Quebec's curfew, with police in Gatineau, Que., issuing 21 tickets for contravening the new restrictions.
Another four tickets were issued due to an illegal gathering, police said, while 19 warnings were handed out.
Under the strict new measures, people found outside in public between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. could face fines ranging from $1,000 to $6,000.
There are certain exceptions, including for essential workers and for humanitarian reasons. All non-essential businesses will be closed during the curfew, except for deliveries and curbside pickup.
In his Wednesday announcement, Premier François Legault called the strict new measures — slated to remain in place until Feb. 8 — "shock therapy," saying the health-care network is at risk of being overwhelmed as COVID-19 spreads in the province.
"It's unfortunate, but we've got to do what we've got to do to stay safe," said Pat Bones, who was enjoying a last-minute skate Saturday in Gatineau's Central Park.
"If this means that when the summertime comes around we can go on patios again and have somewhat of a social life, then you know, I'm doing it," he told Radio-Canada.
Ottawa approaching grey territory
Western Quebec reported 75 cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. In total, the region has reported 5,294 cases and 133 deaths.
In Ottawa, meanwhile, Dr. Vera Etches warned the nation's capital had rapidly found itself deep in the red zone, even approaching "grey" territory where maximum lockdown measures are enforced.
"If we do not reduce the number of close contacts that enable COVID-19 transmission, our hospitals will not be able to maintain services, and the number of deaths will increase," the city's medical officer of health wrote on Twitter Saturday.
"This is a collective task, one where we need to support, not blame each other through this darkest time."
Ottawa’s COVID-19 levels are dramatically higher since before holidays: 3X the rate of infection, highest yet – we are deep into the “Red” zone and approaching “Grey” territory; 3X the percent of tests coming back positive; 2.5X the hospitalizations; wastewater levels increasing <a href="https://t.co/AXwbdO8Xik">pic.twitter.com/AXwbdO8Xik</a>—@VeraEtches
Despite the recent spike in COVID-19 cases across Ottawa-Gatineau, not everyone was so willing to accept the new curfew restrictions.
Approximately 20 people held a peaceful demonstration in the parking lot of a Gatineau shopping mall Saturday night.
"I think the problem with health care right now is not COVID, it's the fact that there is a lack of employees. There is widespread fear," said protester Soleil Larose-Labelle in a French-language interview with Radio-Canada.
"I'm not going to obey the unjust rules ... that's my belief and I'm doing what I think is right," added Shane Miller, another participant, in English.
With files from Radio-Canada's Frédéric Pepin