Police break up massive party at Chelsea, Que. Airbnb; 83 students fined $1,000 each

Police in the Outaouais region of Quebec say 83 students are each facing a $1,000 fine after officers broke up a party at an Airbnb in Chelsea over the weekend.

MRC des Collines police tweeted the information Monday afternoon, saying the incident happened on Sunday.

Zone rouge COVID19- 25 octobre. 83 personnes identifiées dans un Airbnb de Chelsea lors d’une fête. Tous des étudiants. 1000$ d’amende chacun. Dossier tjrs sous enquête #policemrc

— PoliceMRCdesCollines (@Police_MRC) October 26, 2020

"83 people identified in an Airbnb in Chelsea having a party. All students. $1,000 fine for each. The investigation continues," the tweet in French said.

Speaking to CTV News by phone, MRC des Collines Police Sgt. Martin Fournel said neighbours reported a party to police at around 2 a.m. Sunday. All 83 people who are facing fines were found inside the home when officers arrived, but Fournel said witnesses saw other people running away.

Fournel says everyone at the party was a foreign national who is in Canada for post-secondary education. He said investigators believe the party was organized through social media. The individuals facing fines came to Chelsea from places like Ottawa, Montreal, Sherbrooke, and Trois-Rivières, Fournel said.

Chelsea is one of the municipalities in the MRC des Collines de l'Outaouais under Quebec's maximum COVID-19 alert level, which prohibits private gatherings indoors or outdoors.

The City of Gatineau and the MRC des Collines de l'Outaouais were moved to Quebec's "red zone" on Oct. 11, due to rising COVID-19 case counts in the region. According to the Quebec government, there have been 2,264 total cases of COVID-19 and 40 deaths in the region since the pandemic began.

Fournel said the investigation will involve public health officials, the owner of the home that was rented out on Airbnb, who lives in Montreal, and Airbnb itself. 

Airbnb announced a "global party ban" on Aug. 20, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It prohibits parties at all bookings from that date forward and limits occupancy to 16 people maximum in homes that used to be able to accomodate more.

"Guests will be informed about Airbnb’s party rules and informed that they may be legally pursued by Airbnb if they violate our policy," the ban states.