OTTAWA -- Police in the Outaouais are asking people to stay away from the autumn leaves now that part of the region is at Quebec's maximum COVID-19 alert level.

A Facebook post from the MRC des Collines de l'Outaouais police shows a long lineup of cars in what they say is Chelsea on Saturday. Chelsea is one of the municipalities that, as of Sunday, is now at Quebec's maximum Level 4 or "red zone" alert level.

"Do not forget that since today, Oct. 11, the MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais and the city of Gatineau are in RED ALERT mode ... Avoid NON-ESSENTIAL travel. Travelling to see the leaves is not an essential trip," the police said.

The photo was originally tweeted by Marie-Piere Belisle-Kennedy on Saturday and then shared by the police service.

Non-essential travel to other regions in Quebec or anywhere outside of Quebec is not banned, but is strongly discouraged. Under the Level 4 rules, private gatherings are prohibited and organized public activities are prohibited with exceptions for worship services, funerals and demonstrations.

This is a popular time for tourists visiting the Outaouais for the changing leaves. The National Capital Commission's Fall Rhapsody event runs until Oct. 25, encouraging visitors to see the autumnal colours in Gatineau Park and other places around the National Capital Region.

The NCC cancelled its shuttle service to Gatineau Park on Sept. 30, when the region entered the Level 3 or "orange zone" alert level, to help reduce crowds. There has not yet been any change to the Fall Rhapsody event now that the region is in the red zone, but it is a long weekend.

HIER À CHELSEA ... N’oubliez pas que depuis aujourd’hui, le 11 octobre, la MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais et la ville...

Posted by Sécurité Publique MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais on Sunday, October 11, 2020


An earlier version of this article credited the photo to MRC des Collines de l'Outaouais police, as they had shared it on their Facebook page. The photo was originally taken by Marie-Piere Belisle-Kennedy and shared on her personal Twitter page. We have since corrected the photo caption with Ms. Belisle-Kennedy's permission.