17 tickets handed out during protest on first night of curfew

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In total, Montreal police said 17 tickets were handed out at the gathering, which began at 7:30 p.m. and soon violated the new curfew, which went into effect at 8 p.m.

Police did stop several protesters but a spokesperson said no arrests were made. 

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The demonstration began on Mount Royal East, winding down several streets before SPVM officers dispersed the crowd at St-Andre and St-Gregoire. 

The protest was one of several planned across Quebec. In Sept-Iles, the Surete du Quebec said around 20 vehicles gathered at 7:45 p.m. but were dispersed by police soon after. 

In a statement posted to social media, the group responsible for planning the gatherings called for the end of the "state of emergency," writing that they stand “against curfews and abusive measures.”

Saturday marks the first day of Quebec’s new curfew policy, unveiled by the province on Wednesday in an effort to contain the explosive spread of COVID-19.

Since that announcement, more than 5,000 cases of the novel coronavirus have been recorded in Quebec.

"We're talking here about saving lives and we're talking about saving our health-care system," said Premier Francois Legault during a Wednesday press conference.

As of Friday afternoon, approximately 300 people RSVP’d to the event spanning several regions.

At least 15 other cities are expected to see demonstrations on Saturday, including Quebec City, Sherbrooke, and Trois-Rivières.

At least one of the groups responsible for organizing the events was also involved in other anti-lockdown demonstrations in the province.

THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN FINES EXPECTED

The Montreal police department (SPVM) said it is well aware of the planned protests. 

"Our service will deploy staff there to supervise the event and ensure public safety," said the SPVM in a statement to CTV News. 

While demonstrations are still allowed by the province, they must take place before 8 p.m., and attendants must wear masks.

Anyone caught outside after 8 p.m. without a valid reason for being there, such as a personal emergency or a note from work, can be fined between $1000 and $6000.

Though the curfew applies across the province, just how it is enforced is expected to vary by region.

In a Thursday press conference, Deputy Premier Genevieve Guilbault said the province is giving agency to local police responsible for handing out tickets.

“Police are used to showing judgment and discernment,” said Guilbault.

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