Quebec launches police blitz in bars as COVID-19 cases climb - Metro US

Quebec launches police blitz in bars as COVID-19 cases climb

FILE PHOTO: Patrons return to restaurants as coronavirus restrictions lifted to visit restaurants in Montreal

MONTREAL/OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Canadian province of Quebec on Friday said police would target more than 1,000 bars and restaurants to enforce rules curbing the spread of coronavirus, as authorities raised the alarm over a possible second wave.

Quebec and Ontario, the two most populous of the 10 provinces, blame a recent spike in cases on people ignoring limits on parties and regulations on social distancing.

Public health officials reiterated warnings that they might lose the ability to manage the pandemic.

Canada reported an additional 1,120 coronavirus cases and seven deaths on Sept. 17, the second time this week that positive diagnoses have risen by more than 1,000 in 24 hours.

“We have to use every tool and every gesture at our disposal to avoid a second wave in Quebec,” Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault told reporters.

Police would issue tickets to offenders and alert public health authorities if there are multiple infractions at an establishment, she said.

Quebec requires masks to be worn inside public places, prohibits the sale of alcohol after midnight in bars and restaurants, and has banned dancing and karaoke in clubs.

The federal government has already announced more than C$200 billion ($151.5 billion) in spending to help tackle the pandemic. But the provinces and three northern territories on Friday demanded more money for healthcare spending, citing the cost of fighting the virus and lower revenues.

“We are in desperate need of your support,” Ontario premier Doug Ford told a news conference, noting that overall spending on healthcare is C$188 billion a year. Ottawa’s contribution is C$42 billion and this needs to rise to C$70 billion, he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is due to unveil plans in parliament next week to combat the crisis. One absentee will be Yves-Francois Blanchet, leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, who has contracted COVID-19 and is in isolation.

(Additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by David Gregorio, Kirsten Donovan)

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