At his daily press briefing on Thursday, François Legault announced that Quebec had surpassed 5,000 COVID-19 cases. In Montreal, alone, there are now 2,642 confirmed cases. Three new deaths were reported but Legault reassured the public that the death rate in Quebec still remains one of the lowest in the world. 

An increase of 907 new cases in 24 hours brings the total number of cases in Quebec to 5,518. An additional 4,871 people are under investigation.

Legault admonished people who are still participating in public gatherings and not respecting the rules. He reiterated that people must follow the regulations. 

The Quebec government has asked police to be less tolerant of violators and to increase their fines. Police will distribute harsher penalties between $1,000 and $6,000 and perhaps force people into isolation.

Legault also asked police authorities in large cities to be especially vigilant of people who are still gathering in large groups, non-essential businesses that are still open, and people who aren't respecting social distancing. 

"It's a matter of life and death," said Legault. 

He also reassured Quebecers that front-line medical professionals will have access to more equipment and that the province still has at least seven days of supplies left in stock. 

The Premier's warning to social distancing rule-breakers comes a day after Montreal Mayor Plante threatened to close public parks if residents continue to gather in crowds.

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

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

"If you want parks to remain open, respect the two-meter distance" between individuals, she concluded.

But though Montreal has been called a novel coronavirus "hotspot," both municipal and provincial officials have said there are no plans to close off the city.

Legault has asked that no one leave or visit Montreal unless it's "very necessary," but police have not set up the kind of checkpoints seen in other regions to restrict non-essential travel.

Stay tuned for more news.

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