Police allege two bars broke COVID-19 rules in Sherbrooke, Que.
Authorities intervened after virus guidelines went unheeded
By Stephane Blais
SHERBROOKE, Que. — Two bars in Quebec’s Eastern Townships region have allegedly flouted public health regulations meant to stem the spread of COVID-19, police in Sherbrooke said on Monday, as the province reported over 200 new COVID-19 cases for the second straight day.
Public health officials said 216 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases to 63,713 since the pandemic began.
One additional death attributed to the novel coronavirus was also reported.
Authorities said that death occurred between Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, and it brings the total number of deaths to 5,770.
Quebec has seen a steady increase in COVID-19 cases over the past week, prompting government officials to repeatedly urge people to remain cautious and follow safety guidelines.
Monday’s figures come after police in Sherbrooke, Que., over 150 kilometres east of Montreal, said they had to intervene this weekend at two local bars where they allege patrons were not respecting regulations meant to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Sherbrooke police said they went to Bar le Figaro, which was hosting a karaoke night from Friday to Saturday, and allege customers were not following public health guidelines.
Police said they went to another venue owned by the same person, Bar du Chat Noir, on Sunday where patrons were allegedly not maintaining physical distancing.
Customers were dancing close to each other and not wearing masks when moving inside the establishment, police said.
Police spokesman Martin Carrier said the owner of the bars may face fines for violating public health guidelines.
But the owner, Stephane Goulet, said Monday that he is doing all he can to ensure that regulations are respected at his establishments.
“We put heart and soul (into it),”Goulet said in an interview. “We invested a lot of money to respect the sanitary rules.”
Goulet said he found out about the alleged rule violations through the media on Monday morning, and that he didn’t know how much any potential fines would be.
“I’m an entrepreneur and when people come into my bar, I can warn them twice, three times, otherwise I ask them to leave,” he said. “That’s what we were told to do and that’s what we’re doing.”
“We’re trying to survive with what we have, with the means at our disposal, and I think we’re doing it as best we can.”
The Quebec government has urged people to be extra vigilant after a recent karaoke night at a Quebec City bar was linked to dozens of COVID-19 infections.
Also on Monday, public health officials said hospitalizations went up by three cases over the past 24 hours, for a total of 105.
Of those, 18 people were in intensive care — the same number that was reported on Sunday.
Quebec said it conducted 12,737 COVID-19 tests on Saturday, the last date for which the testing data is available.