OTTAWA -- Hundreds of motorists were stopped at the Gatineau-Ottawa border over the weekend as Quebec police aimed to limit non-essential travel in the province.

Gatineau Police turned away approximately 10 per cent of motorists trying to cross the Ottawa River on Saturday and Sunday during random roadside checkpoints. No tickets were issued to motorists.   

On April 1, the Quebec Government announced police would be deployed in the Outaouais region aiming to limit “non-essential movements” between Ontario and Quebec in a bid to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Over the weekend, Gatineau Police set up random roadside checkpoints at the Alexandra Bridge, Portage Bridge, Chaudieres Bridge, Champlain Bridge, and Masson-Angers Ferry. The Surete du Quebec is responsible for the Macdonald-Cartier Bridge. 

Gatineau Police spokesperson Andree East tells CTV News Ottawa that on Friday, officers “intercepted more than 9,000 vehicles during various roadside checks aimed at limiting travel from one region to another. Nearly five per cent of the vehicles had to turn back.”

Officers continued to conduct random roadside checkpoints Saturday and Sunday at the Gatineau-Ottawa border.

“Officers intercepted between 5,000 and 6,000 per day and turned back, on average, 10 per cent of vehicles,” said East about the police checks over the weekend.

Gatineau Police said last week that at the checkpoints, officers will ask drivers and passengers about the purpose of their trip. Officers will assess on a case-by-case basis whether or not the travel is essential, for instance:

  • To get to work if teleworking is not an option
  • For medical appointments or care, or
  • For humanitarian reasons

The Quebec Government had said the restrictions on non-essential travel between Ontario and Quebec would not affect essential workers and health care and services.

East tells CTV News Ottawa officers will turn away motorists if the reason for the trip doesn’t fit into the definition of an essential trip, adding it's at the discretion of the officers. 

No fines were issued to motorists over the weekend.

Gatineau Police have said fines could be imposed on people who don’t co-operate, with the Public Health Act allowing for tickets to be issued ranging from $1,000 to $6,000.