MONTREAL -- After a not-physically-distanced birthday party last week near the Mont Tremblant ski resort in the Laurentians, a dozen people from Montreal, Ottawa and New York state are facing fines of up to $6,000, local police say.

A 911 call brought police to the party on Wednesday, May 20, in the late afternoon, said officer Éric Cadotte of Mont-Tremblant’s town police.

The people at the party “were all from the same family but from different households, maybe five or six different households altogether,” Cadotte told CTV News.

Twelve adults were there, plus kids and teens, he said. The party was meant to celebrate the birthday of one of the “elderly” members of the family.

Arriving after the 911 call, police found a party in full swing, with “DJ, balloons, banners and excessive music,” they wrote in a release.

“The guests present entered and left the residence as they pleased,” the release said.

“The police also saw that the number of guests made the distance of two metres between each person impossible to respect.”

Police wrote up a report for every adult there, or at least the 12 “that we were sure…were adults,” said Cadotte.

It will be up to provincial prosecutors to decide what fines each may face, but they could range from $1,000 to $6,000 per person, police said.

The various households hailed from far-flung places: some had addresses in Montreal or the greater Montreal area, but at least one was from Ottawa. The two people with a home address over the border, in the state of New York, also appear to own a pied-à-terre in Quebec, Cadotte said.

In the pandemic, Quebec has adopted strict physical distancing laws designed by public health authorities and meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

The partying family seemed to believe the rules were on the way out and decided to break them early, said Cadotte. They said as much to the officers on the scene.

“If you see when the infraction occurred, it was on May 20, and on May 20, there was an announcement that was made by the government at 1 p.m., that they would soften the rules about gatherings,” said Cadotte.

That day, Quebec authorities announced that as of two days later, on Friday, they would allow up to 10 people from three households to gather, if they stayed outdoors and maintained a distance of two metres from people outside their own household. (The province later dropped the rule about three households, saying it would be difficult to enforce, though the ten-person limit still applies.)

“What they told the police officers there,” said Cadotte, was essentially “‘It’s going to be legal anyway in a couple of days, so we're not going to miss the opportunity to celebrate this person’s birthday.’”

Cadotte said the mountainous area, popular with tourists, has had other problems during the pandemic—namely, people using the outdoors and people’s backyards as their bathrooms, since no public toilets are open.

“Usually, Mont-Tremblant is a very welcoming place with very welcoming people and we love to have visitors from all over Quebec and all over the world,” he said. “But at this particular point in time, we don't have the means to welcome people who want to visit us.”

Before the party, local police had made 63 reports of people not respecting the rules of Quebec’s confinement, but most were for people who crossed the regional boundary into the area when people were not allowed to travel between regions, Cadotte said.