Montreal police say they intervened to break up more than 10 illegal gatherings on Saturday after police heightened their presence in some boroughs to catch those breaking the rules.
Patrols were stepped up in the Plateau-Mont-Royal and Outremont boroughs after police had to disperse three large gatherings at places of worship, including synagogues, on Friday night and Saturday morning.
Officers say they took the names of people present at the scenes and will submit reports to Quebec’s office of criminal prosecutions, which will decide whether to pursue further penalties.
Two Jewish organizations, Federation CJA and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), issued a statement condemning the actions of “a small segment in the Hasidic community” involved in the gatherings in Outremont.
“An assault on police officers is criminal and inexcusable, as is referring to them as Nazis,” read the statement.
The groups said the “organized Jewish community” has always supported the health regulations in place to fight COVID-19 and would continue to do so.
Rabbi Reuben Poupko, co-chair of CIJA Quebec, told Global News he was troubled by what happened over the weekend.
“I can’t begin to tell you how deeply painful and distressing it was to see the pictures from Outremont,” Poupko said.
Quebec banned religious gatherings in its latest round of lockdowns earlier this month, but reversed the ban on Thursday after outcries from religious groups.
“We had just earlier that day received permission from the government to re-open houses of worship and a lot of people trusted us to follow rules and to adhere to them. To have had it deteriorate so quickly like that was embarrassing.”
This comes as the overall COVID-19 portrait in Quebec continued to trend downwards.
Quebec reported 1,457 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, as well as 41 additional deaths linked to the virus.
Hospitalizations declined for the fifth straight day, down by 56 to 1,327. Of those patients, 219 were in intensive care, an increase of three.
Christian Dubé said on Twitter that the numbers were “encouraging,” but said Quebecers need to maintain their efforts to reduce cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
Quebec Premier François Legault has credited the recent drop in new COVID-19 infections to the nightly curfew that came into effect two weeks ago.
–with files from the Canadian Press
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