• A spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec confirmed to MTL Blog that the police force is prepared to use phone geolocation to find infected individuals who are not in self-isolation.
  • This method can only be used in specific circumstances, however.
  • The SQ will not track people to ensure their compliance with an isolation mandate.

Quebec police are ramping up efforts to enforce social distancing and isolation requirements. A spokesperson for the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) confirmed to MTL Blog that the provincial police force is prepared to use cell phone geolocation to find people with COVID-19 who are not in isolation. But this measure could only be used in specific circumstances.

First, the SQ would receive an emergency request from the regional public health service to locate an individual diagnosed with COVID-19.

The police would begin with attempts to find the person through regular means, the spokesperson says, including by calling their close contacts and visiting their workplace.

If those efforts are unsuccessful, the SQ would then make a request to the person's cell phone service to access geolocation information.

However, police would have to demonstrate that they had already exhausted standard methods of locating the individual.

To date, the SQ has not had to use phone geolocation to find an infected individual.

The spokesperson further underlines that cell phone geolocation data would not be used outside of these circumstances. The SQ will not track people to ensure their compliance with an isolation mandate.

But the announcement nevertheless demonstrates the lengths to which police forces are prepared to go in the current situation.

The news also follows a request from Premier François Legault for police across the province to be "less tolerant" of social distancing rule-breakers.

"There are lives in danger, and if we continue to have rallies and businesses that operate when it is not essential, well [...] there will be deaths," he said Wednesday.

As of Thursday, Montreal police are increasing their presence in the city's major public parks after reports of public gatherings raised concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

Mayor Plante has threatened to close parks if residents do not maintain a two-metre distance from other people.

"This is the last chance to respect public health rules before we close some parks," she wrote in her Instagram story Wednesday.

"When we take our individual responsibilities, we act for the common good."

Police are able to issue fines of between $1,000 and $6,000 to people who do not follow the rules.

Elsewhere in Quebec, police have already begun to hand out tickets. 

The first apparent instance occurred in Gatineau, where police gave one resident a $1,000 fine plus administrative fees for hosting a gathering with friends in their home.

Stay tuned for more news.

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