OTTAWA -- The Quebec government is reminding residents in Gatineau and other red zones across the province that all public and private gatherings are prohibited during the COVID-19 pandemic, and violators could face fines for illegal gatherings.

An emergency alert issued to Gatineau residents on Wednesday afternoon said, a "public health emergency in effect."

"All public and private gatherings remain prohibited in red zones and participants are subject to fines without notice."

Some cellphone users in Ottawa received the emergency alert from the Quebec government. 

The Quebec government says police presence has increased in the red zones in a bid to limit public and private gatherings.

On Wednesday, Premier Francois Legault asked police officers to hand out more fines to people who defy COVID-19 rules.

"I have asked police officers and the health and safety commission to give more fines and more tickets," Legault said. "We cannot allow a minority of people to put the majority at risk." 

The premier said the fines could be as much as $6,000.

Under Quebec's COVID-19 rules, visitors from another address are prohibited both indoors and outdoors.

Private indoor and outdoor gatherings are also prohibited.

The only visitors allowed at indoor or outdoor homes and cottages are a single visitor from another address for single people, informal caregivers and labour workers for planned work.

With files from CTV News Montreal digital reporters Daniel J. Rowe and Katelyn Thomas.