Quebec gym owners, clients who flout COVID-19 red zone rules will face fines: Legault

After ordering gyms and other fitness centres in designated red zones to remain closed for another month, Quebec’s premier is warning there will be fines for owners and patrons who flout the restrictions aimed at stemming the tide of COVID-19.

François Legault announced that he will introduce a decree on Wednesday to ensure that anyone who defies the measures is met with consequences.

“Regarding the gymnasiums, we will have police officers give fines to the owners and the customers,” he told reporters Tuesday.

The proposed decree comes one day after the provincial government extended restrictions for areas on red alert, including Montreal and Quebec City.

Gyms, bars museums and other establishments in those regions will remain closed until Nov. 23 in order to bring down the daily tally of new novel coronavirus infections. The measures, which came into effect at the beginning of the month, were set to last until Oct. 28 if all went well.

“I think the big majority of Quebecers understand that we cannot currently open restaurants, we cannot open gyms because there is a risk of spread,” Legault said.

Before the lockdown was extended, a coalition of the owners of gyms, yoga and dance studios and other fitness centres in high-alert areas expressed their frustration on Monday.

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In a statement, they said they are part of the solution to keeping Quebecers healthy during the pandemic.

Some, but not all, owners vowed to reopen this week, citing a lack of evidence that their establishments have contributed to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases.

Defending measures

Quebec Liberal Party Leader Dominique Anglade criticized the provincial government’s handling of the health crisis Tuesday, saying she felt social peace is now at stake in Quebec.

Opposition parties at the national assembly reacted to the extension on Tuesday, arguing the province needs to be clearer with the public. Anglade, for her part, said Quebecers’ confidence in the government is starting to wane.

“If we had been more transparent and consistent, we wouldn’t be here today,” she said.

Yet Legault defended the public health measures, saying he had “nothing to hide.” The extension of restrictions in red zones was necessary because the daily tally of COVID-19 cases remain high in those areas, he added.

“All the information I have, I give,” he said.

With files from The Canadian Press

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