New checkpoints at Ottawa-Gatineau border 'possible' but no plans for them yet
Quebec Police set up a checkpoint to limit non-essential travel between Ottawa and Gatineau amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Christina Succi/CTV News Ottawa)
OTTAWA -- There are currently no plans to install new border checkpoints for travellers passing between Gatineau and Ottawa, according to one of the top health officials in the Outaouais.
At a joint press conference with Ottawa Public Health and the Centre Intégré de santé et de services sociaux de l'Outaouais (CISSSO), the acting director of public health for the Outaouais region, Dr. Brigitte Pinard responded to several questions about the possibility of setting up new checkpoints on the border, similar to what were in place in the spring, answering each time that there are no plans at this time to do so.
In April, Gatineau police and Quebec provincial police (SQ) set up checkpoints along the bridges between Ottawa and Gatineau to discourage non-essential travel. Between April 1 and May 17, police checked more than 316,000 vehicles at the border, turning away just under 5 per cent of them.
New police checkpoints are set to go up in certain parts of Quebec on Friday to limit travel between regions, but police will not be handing out tickets. Instead, they intend to focus on educating the population and remind commuters that they should only be getting in their cars and driving between zones if absolutely necessary.
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Dr. Pinard said that road checkpoints are a tool that may be used if necessary, but that she does not believe they are necessary at this time.
"Right now, our message is to limit large gatherings," Dr. Pinard said in French. "For now, we don't foresee putting checkpoints in place. It's a measure we could use in the future if the Outaouais moves into the 'red zone' [under provincial guidelines]."
The Outaouais is presently in the 'orange zone' or level 3 alert under Quebec's regional alert system for COVID-19, which includes limits on indoor gatherings, capacity and hours of operation for bars and restaurants and includes a recommendation to avoid unnecessary contact with others outside of one's household.