Your next meal in a red-zone restaurant could cost you $6,000

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The Legault government sent a serious warning to people wanting to eat in restaurants that may be defying public health rules.

Just like fitness centres that threatened to reopen last week, they could face fines up to $6,000.

This comes after two restaurants in the Saguenay region said they would defy public health guidelines and open their dining rooms, even though the region just entered a red zone, the maximum alert level, because of the progression of the pandemic there.

Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault issued her warning to restaurants Wednesday. During a morning press conference at the National Assembly, she reminded reporters a decree had been adopted last week to sanction not only owners of establishments — like fitness centres — that would open despite the ban, but also their clients.

“This decree will be applicable to other types of businesses that open in red zones,” she said.

Clients who eat in those establishments could face stiff penalties. If a police officer issues a portable statement of offence, fines could go up to $1,000 plus fees, or about $1,500, but if they file an offense report, fines could go up to $6,000.

Parti Quebecois parliamentary leader Pascal Berube said while he doesn’t encourage restaurants defying public health laws, he believes owners were trying to send government a message.

In a press conference, he asked for more transparency from government and increased financial support for restaurants.

“The government is incapable of showing us how restaurants are acting as vectors of transmission, and it doesn’t want to give us the notice from public health proving it.”

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