After a nearly 140-day curfew, Quebecers took advantage of fewer restrictions this weekend to party late into the night, while some were more eager than others to let go of the pandemic’s etiquette. On both Friday and Saturday nights, spontaneous celebrations erupted in parks and other public spaces throughout Montreal and Quebec City. They were followed by a series of violent scuffles that sent at least three individuals to the hospital.
The number of violent occurrences over the weekend, as well as the looser approach to obeying the public health restrictions that remain in place, concerns Montreal police on Monday. “The first weekend of déconfinement presented a few issues for Montreal police,” said Insp. David Shane, a spokeswoman for the force.
The celebration was especially wild in Montreal’s Old Port. After one person was shot and another was stabbed during an altercation at Place Jacques-Cartier early Sunday morning, riot police dispersed a crowd of several thousand people.
With the lifting of the 9:30 p.m. curfew, restaurants and bars in Montreal were allowed to reopen for the first time since the fall, though customers had to sit outside and in small groups. After a few drinks, revelers injected life into Montreal’s long-dormant streets, but they also left behind mountains of garbage in the morning, according to business owners.
“That is precisely what will turn off our local customers or visitors. This is a matter that the city and police must deal with ” General manager of the Jardin Nelson restaurant in Place Jacques-Cartier, Jean-Marc Lavoie. Police in Montreal said they would contact shop owners and increase patrols in Old Montreal and other central areas.
According to Shane, authorities believe that public health regulations that banned bars and clubs for months have shifted late-night violence to residential areas of the city. “With déconfinement, perhaps we’ll see [criminal] activities returning to downtown,” he added, adding that police counted approximately a dozen violent incidents over the weekend, ranging from murder to fights.