The government of Quebec is enforcing stricter social distancing rules. After announcing an extension of school closures to May 1 and ordering the closure of restaurant dining areas and shopping malls, Premier Legault put in place an almost total ban on gatherings. The Montreal Police (SPVM) followed up with an emergency declaration for the city. Now, anyone who disregards the Montreal social-distancing rules could earn a fine of $1,000, according to reports from multiple publications, including CTV News.

In a statement released on Sunday, the SPVM "calls on citizens to cooperate and respect the ban on assembly."

The police praise Montrealers for their "exemplary collaboration" and acknowledges the "exceptional" natures of these new measures, but officers are nevertheless ready to act to "ensure respect and understanding of the measures intended to protect the health of the population."

But there are a few exceptions.

People whose jobs require them to assemble in the workplace will not be asked to disband.

Residents can also continue to access still-open public services and public transit.

Gatherings of residents in a private home are still allowed,* as are visits from individuals providing services.

The SPVM specifies, however, that "all persons meeting in one of these situations must [...] as far as possible, maintain a minimum distance of two meters between them, except if they are occupants of the same private residence."

The new social distancing rules come as the COVID-19 outbreak escalates in the Montreal area.

On Friday, the on-island suburb of Côte-St-Luc requested that provincial authorities "consider drastic measures such as limiting access within the perimeter" in response to the propagation of the novel coronavirus.

Healthcare facilities in Montreal have also increased their testing capacity.

On Monday morning, a walk-in clinic opened in the Quartier des Spectacles in response to a high volume of calls to Info-Santé 811.

Area hospitals have further begun opening drive-through testing centres.

We reached out to the SPVM for more information on the new state of emergency and fines for violations of new rules on public gatherings.


*This article has been updated.

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