Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson has spoken out about the new ban on non-essential travel across the Ottawa-Gatineau border. On Wednesday, Quebec made an unprecedented move in response to COVID-19 concerns, setting up checkpoints at many interprovincial bridges and roadways. The aim is to prevent all non-essential travel into the province, where cases of the virus continue to rise.

As the number of cases of COVID-19 in Quebec continues to climb, the provincial government has announced new measures to control the spread of the disease, including restricting access into the region.

Beginning on Wednesday, all movement between Ottawa and Gatineau will be monitored by the Sûreté du Québec and Gatineau police, and roadblocks have been set up on all five Ottawa-Gatineau bridges.

Speaking at a conference on Wednesday, Mayor Watson admitted that the City of Ottawa had not been given a detailed heads-up about Quebec’s plans for the border, noting that officials had learned more information about the checkpoints from the media.

“We don’t believe on this side that it’s necessary,” Watson stated during the conference, adding, "I think this has gone one step too far."

Watson confirmed that Ottawa would not support putting municipal police resources on the five bridges for "24 hours a day" at this stage, describing it as a "complete waste of resources." 

"I don’t think it would make any sense and it would take police away from doing vital work during this pandemic," he said.

According to Global News, officers at the border are asking all Gatineau-bound drivers why they are attempting to enter Quebec. Those who were taking non-essential trips were turned away.

Residents of Quebec are still being allowed into the province, but officers are reportedly asking them why they have been in Ontario.

Along with the bridges, local police are located at checkpoints between Outaouais and the Laurentides, as well as in Pontiac, Papineau and Vallée-de-la-Gatineau. 

For now, the border only remains closed to non-essential travel into Quebec. Those travelling into Ottawa are still freely allowed to cross, and Watson doesn’t intend to set-up similar spot checks.

"We do not plan on putting up any kind of spot checks on our side of the river," he confirmed on Wednesday.

While Ottawa’s bridges and borders remain open, Mayor Watson has asked locals to avoid taking any unnecessary trips between the two cities.

As of Thursday morning, the province of Quebec had almost half of Canada’s total number of COVID-19 cases.

The country has a total of 9,613 confirmed cases, 4,611 of which are located in Quebec.

Ontario has 2,392.

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