Police are ready to enforce social distancing rules in Quebec. The Service de police de la Ville de Gatineau (SPVG) announced Wednesday that its officers had given out the very "first ticket under the Public Health Act," which forbids almost all gatherings of people who don't live in the same residence. "The $1,000 fine was issued following a trip to an apartment for a gathering," according to a statement on the SPVG website.

Officers discovered the gathering after responding to a noise complaint after midnight in Hull.

Two of the five people at the small party did not live in the host dwelling.

"As advocated by the SPVG, the police attempted an approach based on information and education. However, those present refused to cooperate," the statement explains.

In addition to the $1,000 fine, police issued a "statement of offence of $200, plus administrative fees" for noise.

The police make further clear that $1,000 isn't even the highest possible fine.

The SPVG says that tickets for Public Health Act violations can go as high as $6,000.

"Although the SPVG favours a community-based approach of persuasion, SPVG police officers are prepared to take coercive measures in the event of a refusal to cooperate."

Reports indicate that Montreal police are also ready to issue fines as high as $1,000.

"The SPVM encourages the public to respect all measures put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including the closure of non-essential businesses and the prohibition of gatherings," a spokesperson told MTL Blog.

"The SPVM is counting on the good faith of Montrealers to follow all government directives, including those concerning social distancing."

Almost all public gatherings are banned in Quebec during the COVID-19 outbreak.

There are a few exceptions, however.

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

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