The City of Côte St-Luc, Que., declared a state of emergency yesterday, which allows it extraordinary powers under the Civil Protection Act, notably, to limit public gatherings to a maximum of 10 people.
The largely Jewish suburb acknowledges this will have a major impact, in particular, on the many Jewish weddings planned at this time of year. It is prepared to call in the police, if necessary, to enforce it.
The state of emergency is in effect for a five-day period and can be renewed with the authorization of the Quebec Ministry of Public Security, which it appears Côte St-Luc intends to seek.
The city said it invoked this measure because it has the highest percentage of seniors of any municipality in the province, at about 30 per cent of its population of 34,000, and many mostly elderly snowbirds are returning from outside the country.
It also has more places of worship than any city of its size and numerous seniors’ residences and health-care facilities.
These include five major synagogues and other smaller Jewish congregations.
“The city is taking this step to limit the number of social and religious public gatherings to a maximum of 10 persons and, as such, the city is asking public health authorities and the Montreal police (SPVM) to enforce this rule on its local territory,” the Côte St-Luc council said in a statement.
“The top priority of a city is the health of its population.”
Côte St-Luc has asked the health authorities to use their powers to stop all events attended by more than 10 with the assistance of the police.
“We understand that in the coming three weeks there are many weddings and celebrations planned before the onset of Passover, followed by the seven weeks of the Omer where weddings and celebrations cannot take place, according to the Jewish tradition,” the statement continues.
“While we understand that people have made plans and invited guests, we cannot take the risk of allowing large gatherings in our community at this time. We are confident that the residents will understand and support this effort.”
A Quebec municipality may activate the provincial Civil Protection Act when, “in an actual or imminent major disaster situation, immediate action is required to protect human life, health or physical integrity, which, in its opinion, it is unable to take within the scope of its normal operating rules or of any applicable emergency preparedness plan.”