Most people are staying home
MRC Prefect: Ontario residents respecting stay-at-home order
Sûreté du Québec checkpoints were set up on April 24 and 25, turning back motorists with Ontario license plates without a legitimate reason to be crossing the border, but according to MRC des Collines Prefect and Chelsea Mayor Caryl Green, the stay-at-home orders have done most of the work to keep Ontario residents on their side of the border.
Deputy premier Geneviève Guilbault announced the border closures on April 16, following the announcement of similar measures by Premier Doug Ford in Ontario on the same day. A similar restriction was put in place last spring when the Quebec government implemented checkpoints on bridge and ferry crossings during the COVID-19 pandemic's first wave.
According to data from the Service de police de la Ville de Gatineau, more than 1,680 motorists were stopped at various checkpoints on the border. Ten per cent of those were made to turn back due to not having a valid reason to be entering the province.
“[The police] found that there were very few cars with Ontario license plates,” said Green, who explained that, on top of the SQ checkpoints set up near the roundabout in Wakefield and the highway off-ramp in Chelsea, MRC police were also present patrolling the region, including Gatineau Park and the Quyon Ferry, where they turned around only three Ontario residents all weekend. “The Ontario stay-at-home order seems to be being respected.”
Green said that the MRC was not officially keeping track of how many people were stopped or turned around, but said that the SQ would be making a report regarding their checkpoint stops later in the week, after her usual weekly meeting with the MRC Police. Green did say that the SQ checkpoints would be focused on weekend travel and would be set up on a more sporadic basis.
“It's clear that, if people really want to come over, they’ll find a way,” Green said. “But I think the message has been heard in Ontario and in the Outaouais that we shouldn't be travelling back and forth unless we absolutely have to.”
Currently, the province is barring all travellers from Ontario with the exception of:
having a primary residence in the province or a secondary residence requiring maintenance
work or study
complying with a court order
being a federal public servant whose work requires travel into Quebec
ensuring the transport of goods in Quebec
travelling through the province as part of an interprovincial/international trip
Travellers returning to their primary residences from Ontario must self-isolate for a period of 14 days. Exemptions to this self-isolation order include: providing care, working or studying in the province, complying with a court order, or humanitarian reasons.
Green also said that, for the week of April 12-18, the MRC police only reported having to make 43 stops with regard to the curfew and only four of those resulted in fines. There were also 17 fines handed out that same week in relation to private gatherings.