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Quebec closes all shopping malls, restaurants

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Quebec is ordering the closure of all restaurant dining rooms and shopping malls until at least May to prevent people from gathering and potentially spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

Premier Francois Legault said salons will also have to close, however grocery stores, pharmacies and liquor stores can stay open, even if they're in shopping centres. Stores that open to the outdoors will be allowed to stay open.

The news came as the number of confirmed cases in the province rose by 38 on Sunday, to 219 from 181.

Legault reminded reporters that it was too soon for recent social distancing efforts to have a positive impact on numbers.

“The measures we have taken in the last 10 days will be felt, are having an impact, that's what public health tells us," he said. "But we think at this stage we have to go a little further, have to intensify our measures.”

Legault also announced the province's schools, universities and daycares would remain closed until at least May.

Legault once again appealed to Quebecers to avoid all social gatherings and said police would only be used to enforce those rules as a last resort.

When questioned about reports of police breaking up gatherings in Quebec City, Legault said the primary role of law enforcement is to inform the population of the measures in place.

“Right now we count on the good faith of the population," he said. "We want to use police and the force only in very few exceptions in order not to have any type of chaos in our society.”

Montreal police said Sunday afternoon that they'd received about 80 calls believed to be related to Saturday's provincial directive to avoid gatherings.

Spokeswoman Veronique Comtois stressed that police would first work to encourage citizens to collaborate, but said those who don't listen could face fines of at least $1,000.

Quebec City police said they'd gotten about a dozen calls between Saturday evening and Sunday to signal possible gatherings, while Quebec provincial police on Sunday said they'd received a few dozen.

Montreal announced Sunday that it was closing playgrounds and play structures.

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