Don't cross the river for a haircut, Outaouais MNA urges Ottawans

Dentists, massage therapists and barber shops in most of Quebec were allowed to reopen Monday, but at least one Outaouais politician is urging people in Ottawa not to cross the interprovincial border just to get a haircut.

Quebec began the next phase of its pandemic reopening plan Monday, with personal service and private health-care businesses allowed to open in most areas of the province, including Gatineau.

But people on both sides of the Ontario-Quebec border should stay in their respective provinces for now, according to Mathieu Lacombe, the MNA for Papineau and the minister responsible for the Outaouais region.

"The idea is not to take unnecessary risks. Crossing the border to get your hair cut is not an essential need," Lacombe said in French during an interview with Radio-Canada.

Lacombe said it shouldn't be left to business owners to deny services to those who have crossed the bridge from Ontario. 

"I will not ask [business owners] to play the role of investigators. On the other hand, the idea is not to encourage [cross-border trips]. It can happen, but we rely on the good will of everyone, both on the Ontario and Quebec sides, to ensure that only essential trips are made between the two provinces," Lacombe said. 


Comments 'confusing,' opposition MNA says

In response to Lacombe's comments, a local opposition MNA said the government is inviting "confusion" by allowing businesses to reopen, while also removing interprovincial checkpoints.

"It's absolutely confusing to give a message that we're withdrawing the roadblocks, people can freely go back and forth, you can come for essential services, but without having a clear definition of what that is, without telling people what they can and cannot travel for," said André Fortin, the MNA for Pontiac and opposition critic for health and social services. 

"It puts a certain onus on people to try and figure it out themselves," Fortin said. "When the government itself isn't clear, it certainly is difficult for people to follow the rules the way they want to."