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Operation OSCAR targets restaurants’ adherence to health guidelines

MONTREAL (CITYNEWS) – Police across Quebec are launching a major operation this weekend aimed at bars and restaurants in the province’s at-risk cities.

Operation OSCAR is targeting more than 1,000 establishments to ensure public-health guidelines are being enforced.

The province’s eight “yellow zone” regions – locations that are in a state of warning for rising COVID cases – are currently under police scrutiny, including Montreal and Laval.

“The goal behind this operation is to help our regions to go back to green, and to remain green for those who are already green,” said Quebec Public Security Minister Genevieve Guilbault. “We have to use every tool and every measure at our disposal to avoid a second wave of COVID in Quebec.”

Under OSCAR – a French acronym that translates to “systematic operation against unsafe behaviour” – officers will fine bar and restaurant owners, as well as patrons who defy public-health measures like wearing a mask.

Just this week, Quebec increased fines for COVID-19 violations up to $6,000.

Some bar owners welcome the crackdown.

“For me, it’s absolutely fantastic,” said Ziggy Eichenbaum, owner of Ziggy’s Pub in downtown Montreal. “The more the merrier. Let them go around and see the places that are not following the rules and fine them.”

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) is concerned that an increased police presence takes the focus away from public health and puts the emphasis on punishment instead.

“When you involve police, really the process turns from support, education and public health to oftentimes a punitive approach,” said Abby Deshman of the CCLA. “And that is very counterproductive to helping people and supporting them through a difficult time.”