Canada's Quebec launches police blitz in bars as COVID-19 cases climb

Canada's Quebec launches police blitz in bars as COVID-19 cases climb

FILE PHOTO: Patrons return to restaurants as coronavirus restrictions lifted to visit restaurants i
Patrons are separated by plexiglass sheets as they return to restaurants on the first day after novel coronavirus restrictions were lifted to visit restaurants in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on Jun 22, 2020. (Photo: REUTERS/Christinne Muschi)

MONTREAL: The Canadian province of Quebec on Friday (Sep 18) announced a police operation targeting more than 1,000 bars and restaurants this weekend to enforce rules curbing the spread of coronavirus, as authorities raised the alarm over a possible second wave.

Canada's top medical officer warned this week that health officials could potentially lose the ability to manage the pandemic after the country reported an average of 779 new cases daily during the recent week, more than double the level in July. Like Quebec, the country's most populous province Ontario has blamed increases on social events, especially indoor gatherings.

"We have to use every tool and every gesture at our disposal to avoid a second wave in Quebec," Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault told reporters in Quebec City.

Police would issue tickets to offenders and alert public health authorities if there are multiple infractions at an establishment, she said.

Canada reported an additional 1,120 coronavirus cases and seven deaths on Sep 17. It's the second time this week that the country has reported more than 1,000 new cases in 24 hours.

Quebec, Canada's hardest-hit province by coronavirus, requires masks to be worn inside public places, prohibits the sale of alcohol after midnight in bars and restaurants, and has banned dancing and karaoke in clubs to curb the virus's spread.

Guilbault said Quebec is tackling the problem of private gatherings that exceed 10 people, which are more complicated for police since they need a warrant to enter homes.

She said the province is looking at ways to issue fines more quickly to people who organize the parties.

"Our police officers will be able to give out real tickets when there are gatherings in private homes."

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Source: Reuters/nh

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