GATINEAU, QC. --
People in Quebec who are not following public health guidelines—specifically, people who are not wearing a mask indoors—will now face harsh penalties.
New provincial measures came into effect Saturday that allow authorities to impose fines of up to $6,000 for non-compliance.
Quebec was the first province to mandate masks indoors and now it is the first to impose stiff penalties.
“We cannot accept that the few irresponsible people put all Quebec people at risk, it’s time to penalize them,” said Quebec Premier François Legault on Thursday, while announcing the new measures.
“I don’t have a problem with it at all, if it helps encourage people following the rules, just the way it is,” said one Gatineau resident who spoke to CTV News on Saturday.
The measure is in place across the province and applies to all indoor public places.
“It’s our responsibility right, for us, and of course in the social community, so I think it’s a good idea,” said Marie-France Roy, owner of Le Local, a clothing boutique in Gatineau.
Roy said getting patrons to wear a mask has not been an issue so far, but she said she’s happy the business isn't the only one responsible if rules aren’t being followed.
“They have it in their pocket, and they would come in, oh yeah, or my husband has it in the car, or I forgot it at home, but not anymore, definitely not anymore,” she said.
With the new measures in place, the Quebec government has asked police to increase their presence in certain indoor areas and is asking citizens to be vigilant about each other’s behaviour.
“There’s a lot of people who still don’t seem to get the implications of not wearing a mask, whether or not it affects them directly, it’s sort of up in the air at this point, but I think it’s certainly warranted,” a Gatineau resident told CTV News.
However, some remain sceptical about whether fines will have an impact.
“No, I don’t think it’ll work...I really don’t,” another Gatineau resident told CTV News.