Peacekeepers in Kahnawake issue over $16,000 in tickets to business violating health measures

 While Montreal and the rest of Quebec continue the government issued "circuit breaker" lockdown where all non-essential businesses are closed until Jan. 11, the Kanien'kehá:ka (Mohawk) community of Kahnawake on the South Shore of the St. Lawrence is going even further and closing for the entire month.

Fines for breaking the community's COVID-19 Task Force rules are not light.

The Kahnawake Peacekeepers announced Friday that officers handed out two fines at a business not adhering to the public health directive equalling $16,543.

"It's for a business," said peacekeeper spokesperson Kyle Zachary. "One was to the owner of the business, that's the $10,000 fine (plus fees), and then there was a $1,500 fine to the cashier."

Zachary said the fine was for a cigarette store on Highway 138, and that officers responded after a complaint was made.

"We got a call from a community member reporting that the business was still operating," said Zachary.

The community's COVID-19 task force's Directive 55 requires all non-essential businesses closed from Dec. 31 to Jan. 31 including cigarette stores.

"This isn't something that we like to do," said Zachary. "These directives have been put in place to serve the greater health of our community. We understand not everyone is happy with what's happening. We're just as frustrated with how times are."

Essential businesses, the directive reads, are permitted to stay open and "offer contactless/curbside pick-up/deliveries."

Gas stations, grocery and convenience stores are permitted to sell tobacco to "local residents only," the directive reads.

Local household visits in the community are also prohibited in January except for caregivers, babysitters and "people living alone requiring visits for mental health and wellness purposes," according to the task force's Directive 54.

"The directives are there, and we have the mandate to enforce them and we're going to continue," said Zachary. "It's for the protection of our community."

After avoiding a single COVID-19 case during the first wave, two staff members at the community's elders' lodge tested positive for COVID-19, a task force news release from Thursday reads.

The Turtle Bay Elders' Lodge reported zero novel coronavirus cases during the first wave among staff or residents, and immediate isolation and assessment measures were put in place after the positive tests.

The release says that screening will take place a the lodge every five days until the end of the outbreak.

Vaccinations of staff at the community's Kateri Memorial Hospital, elders' lodge and independent living centre has begun in Kahnawake.

Video testimonials are posted on the task force's Facebook page showing health-care professionals receiving the vaccine and speaking about it.

"It's now been 24 hours since my vaccine, and today I'm feeling completely fine," said hospital nurse and manager Robin Guyer. "I'm doing all the things that I would be doing on a day like today and probably that all of you are doing."

Guyer said she checked in with others who received the vaccine and that everyone is doing well.

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