MONTREAL -- Three Quebec regions face partial lockdown measures starting today after reaching the highest COVID-19 alert level earlier this week.

People living in the greater Montreal, Quebec City and Chaudiere-Appalaches region south of the provincial capital will live with the new restrictions for at least 28 days as the province tries to get COVID-19 cases under control.

Quebec police will be able to obtain telewarrants permitting them to enter people's homes to enforce lockdown orders that enter into effect Thursday.

Premier Francois Legault told reporters today his government has set up a system allowing police to quickly obtain a judge-signed warrant if they suspect an illegal gathering.

Anyone in red zone regions caught hosting a private gathering of people from different addresses is liable to a $1,000 fine.

Bars, casinos, concert halls, cinemas, museums and libraries are to be shuttered in those regions and restaurants will be limited to takeout.

Private gatherings are prohibited and people cannot have any visitors from another address at their homes with few exceptions, like caregivers or maintenance workers.

Outdoor gatherings are forbidden, masks are mandatory for demonstrations and police have the power to hand out hefty fines to those who flout the rules.

As of Wednesday, Quebec has averaged 740 new COVID-19 cases daily in the past seven days.

Premier Francois Legault has said that protecting schools, the health system and people's jobs remain the priority.

The three regions, which include Quebec's two most populous cities, are home to about five million Quebecers.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 1, 2020.