Coronavirus: 'People are freaking out' about violations in Côte-St-Luc
A city councillor in Côte-St-Luc says he is receiving multiple calls a day from worried residents reporting that citizens are not complying with social distancing rules.
“People are calling saying there are snowbirds in the lobby and in the mailroom,” Michael Cohen said. “They’re saying they’re putting their trash away and then touching the doorknob. I don’t think they should be in the trash room.”
Cohen said a resident recently flagged him down to report that her neighbour was having guests “on a regular basis.”
“People are freaking out right now,” he said. “They are really scared.”
As of Monday, there were 120 cases of COVID-19 in Côte-St-Luc, up from 107.
The IGA store at Quartier Cavendish closed for two weeks as of Monday, and is only doing deliveries. The lead-up to Passover, which starts April 8, is one of the busiest times of the year, but there were very few customers in the store on Sunday.
Management felt it would be safer for the community if the store was now closed to customers.
Several employees have quit recently because they feared being exposed to the virus by snowbirds returning from Florida, the Montreal Gazette has learned.
The grocery store has so many orders that 50 volunteers are pitching in to take orders over the phone, do the packing and make the deliveries.
“They have been flooded with orders — they were backed up for a week,” said Mitch Kujavsky, a city councillor who has helped organize deliveries to seniors.
On a blog post written this week, Cohen pleaded with people, especially snowbirds, to remain at home.
Cohen wrote that the city has become “the focal point of COVID-19 cases in the province, primarily because too many people did not respect the calls from the government for social distancing, avoiding large gatherings and not self-isolating when coming into contact with someone who was diagnosed or when they returned from Florida.
“If people want to know why our IGA at Quartier Cavendish and Caldwell Provisions have closed their doors to clients and will only do delivery for now, this is why.”
Cohen urged residents to call 911 if they see a large gathering or spot someone with COVID-19 roaming around.
“This is serious,” he said. “They must halt any potential super-spreader.”
Last week, leaders of various religious groups in Quebec released a statement saying “people should pray at homes, suspend all religious gatherings and set an example by respecting instructions regarding social distancing and self-isolation.”
Also last week, Premier François Legault pleaded with snowbirds to stay at home for two weeks.
“You are at risk,” he said, adding that means not even going out for a walk. “Please stay inside.”
Rabbi Reuben Poupko said he believes the vast majority of residents are staying home. “I drove around and you see scattered dog walkers,” he said. “Other than that, everything is closed. It’s like a ghost town.”
On Monday, Federation CJA, an umbrella group of Jewish organizations, reminded members to avoid group gatherings during Passover.
“The only people at your table are the people under your roof,” said Poupko, of Beth Israel Beth Aaron Congregation.
A resident of Côte-St-Luc called police Tuesday night after people gathered at a ritual bath used by Orthodox Jewish women.
When officers arrived at Mikveh Israel on Kildare Rd., there were four or five people present.
The group was told they were not allowed to gather because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The bath was closed and the people inside left without incident, said Const. Julian Lévesque of the Montreal police.
A message on the Mikveh’s voicemail says: “All women must arrive fully prepared and ready to dip. Please bring your own towel. If you are experiencing any symptoms or have been told to quarantine, you may not attend the Mikveh.”
Mayor Mitchell Brownstein said the director of public health is studying the issue.
Brownstein said the vast majority of residents are doing their best to practise social distancing. “There is always the odd few (who aren’t) and people in Côte-St-Luc are concerned by anything that they see that might violate the rules.”