KAHNAWAKE, QUE. -- Kahnawake health officials have delivered a hefty fine to a tobacco outlet on Highway 132 which continued to serve customers from outside the communit,y against pandemic protocols.

Constable Kyle Zachary of the Peacekeepers, the local police force, announced the fine in a video posted Thursday on the "Kahnawake 911" Facebook page, which serves as a venue for disseminating information from the action committee.

After receiving several calls from the public, police caught a clerk selling tobacco products to customers from outside the community.

As per Kahnawake's emergency measures, which prohibit tobacco sales to outsiders, the store received a fine of $15,100. The individual clerk who performed the sale was also fined $1,541.

Peacekeepers have received several calls from other businesses who say “if other businesses are staying open, then [they’re] going to stay open too," Zachary said.

“Let me be clear here. Businesses who refuse to comply with the directives… expose themselves to criminal charges," he said.

Kahnawake has banned the sale of tobacco products to customers outside the community for the entire month of January.

The objective is to limit through-traffic. Being so close to Montreal, with its high case rate, officials say they’re being cautious of what they call a fragile situation.

“Nobody wants to be doing this, but these directives are in place for a reason. They’re there to protect our most vulnerable citizens," Zachary said.

“We are trying to keep the virus away from our elders and our immunocompromised residents.”

Zachary says it’s important for community members to exercise solidarity.

“If all that you’re thinking about is keeping your business open, I feel sorry for you,” he said.

“The more that we come together, the more that we follow the directives, the faster we can be out of this.”

Kahnawake's Commissioner for Public Safety, Lloyd Phillips, told the public that the police are only doing their job when they impose tickets.

Phillips says the situation is improving in Kahnawake, but not yet enough to allow the regulations in place to be relaxed.  

This report from The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021.