Police turn back dozens of vehicles on Ottawa-Gatineau bridges
OTTAWA -- Ottawa police turned back dozens of drivers trying to cross into Ottawa from Gatineau on Sunday for reasons officers deemed were not essential.
Seventy-four drivers were ordered to turn back to Quebec on Sunday between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Sunday, out of 1,080 vehicles that police screened.
Police say the cross-border travellers turned away were planning to grocery shop, get take-out food and other such non-essential errands.
Nearly half of those turnarounds, 36, happened on the Champlain Bridge, police said.
Ottawa police set up border checkpoints last Monday after an Ontario government directive to monitor Ontario-Quebec crossings 24/7.
However, Ottawa mayor Jim Watson decried them as wasteful and ineffective and Chief Peter Sloly said they were straining police resources.
By Tuesday evening, police stopped monitoring the crossings for 24 hours a day, instead setting up rotating daily checkpoints until the end of the stay-at-home order.
Sloly told reporters on Monday the police force has been holding daily briefings to ensure they are achieving the right balance between interprovincial restrictions and public health outcomes, such as health care workers community to Ontario from Quebec.
“It’s been very difficult, it’s been very dynamic,” he said. “I think we’ve got the right balance now.”
Sloly said the reasons people give for trying to enter Ontario tend to centre around two areas. One is “a stated desire by residents of Quebec to come to Ontario to purchase cannabis from our local stores.”
The other is a variety of other shopping, including food and retail.