MONTREAL -- Police across Quebec have handed out hundreds of tickets to citizens not respecting physical distancing orders implemented since the COVID-19 pandemic was called a public health emergency in the province..

Since Saturday, Montreal police have issued 146 tickets to people not abiding by COVID-19–related rules, while Quebec provincial police tweeted that they have issued 157 tickets.

Service de police de la Ville de Monreal inspector Andre Durocher said at first it was about informing the public of the rules, but and now it is more about enforcement.

“I can hardly see how anybody is not aware of what’s going on for the past weeks,” he said. “So what we did is up until about a week ago, let’s say that the general rule of thumb was to do education and prevention, and the exception was to give a ticket or a rapport d’infraction general.

"Now it’s the opposite, because how could anybody say that they’re not aware of it anymore. But of course with that being said, there will always be room for good judgment.”

On Sunday, the City of Montreal closed Ile Notre-Dame, Lachine Canal crossings, and the parking lots and stair cases on Mont-Royal because people were gathering in large groups to take advantage of the pleasant weather. Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said the city will not hesitate to enforce rules to protect Montrealers, but hopes citizens can understand the reason for the new rules.

A $546 fine is added to the $1,000 ticket for those who are guilty of not obeying the rules. Crown prosecutors can set the fine as high as $6,000.

There are exceptions to physical distancing rules, such as for families or roommates who live together, or those called on to assist someone.

“There could also be the one with regards to people with specific duties,” said Durocher. “If you call the ambulance, the ambulance technician is going to be close to you, closer than two metres. It’s the same thing with anybody who’s providing you with some sort of service.”