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Weekend Police Blitz at Quebec Bars and Restaurants Yields 90 Tickets

More than 2,000 establishments were visited by officers enforcing public health directives

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A major police operation carried out across Quebec this weekend targeting restaurants and bars failing to comply with rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 was deemed a “great success” by public security minister Geneviève Guilbault.

During a press conference this afternoon, Guilbault said the operation resulted in 1,500 verbal warnings and more than 90 tickets for those infringing on public health directives, as coronavirus cases in the province continue to climb. Quebec reported 462 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday and 427 on Saturday; counts that high hadn’t been registered since late May.

Surpassing their goal of 1,000 visits, police officers checked in on 2,206 bars and restaurants over the weekend in what is being called operation OSCAR, an acronym that translates to “systematic operation against risky behaviour” in French.

Fines were issued for infractions including failures to abide by rules relating to mask wearing, physical distance, the sale of alcohol, overcrowding, and maintaining a register of customers entering the establishment.

“It’s important for the majority that we don’t let the actions of a small minority compromise the collective efforts,” Guilbault said.

On Sunday evening, the Quebec government placed Montreal (along with two other regions) on “moderate” or “orange” alert, signalling a tightening of measures: Bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol at 11 p.m, close up at midnight, and seat no more than six people at a table.

According to a leaked internal government document, escalation to “red” zone could mean restaurants are forced to operate exclusively on takeout and delivery. However, according to that same document, being placed on “orange” alert would have required bars and indoor dining to shut down completely — something the government hasn’t followed through on.

Guilbault has neither confirmed, nor ruled out the possibility of another OSCAR blitz. In the meantime, police officers will continue to check in on restaurants on a regular basis.

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