OTTAWA -- Quebec police checkpoints will be lifted at the Gatineau-Ottawa border after the May long weekend during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Quebec Government announced Friday afternoon the highway checkpoints at the bridges over the Ottawa River will be removed as of Monday, May 18, as recommended by public health officials.

On Friday afternoon, Gatineau Police were still turning away motorists at the Ottawa-Gatineau border if officers deemed the trip non-essential. Ottawa residents who own cottages in Quebec had been hoping for the green light to travel to their properties for the long weekend.

In a tweet, Mayor Jim Watson says “I’m glad the Quebec Government has finally announced its decision to open up the border between Ottawa and Gatineau.”

“I still don’t understand what was accomplished but I am pleased that residents on both sides of the river can pass by freely.”

The Quebec Government implemented travel restrictions between Gatineau and Ottawa on April 1 as part of measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The ban on non-essential travel into and through the Outaouais was lifted on May 11, but the restrictions remained in place at the bridges over the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Gatineau.

The government is still asking residents to avoid non-essential travel from one region to another or from one city to another.

Since the Quebec Government introduced the travel restrictions at the Gatineau-Ottawa border on April 1, Gatineau Police and the Surete du Quebec have been setting up random police checkpoints at the crossings to stop non-essential travel.

A petition calling on the Quebec government to allow Ottawa-area residents access to their residential properties in Quebec has 7,600 signatures.