There are now strict shopping rules for unvaccinated people and those lacking a vaccine passport in Canada’s largest province of Quebec.
For large retail stores such as Walmart or IKEA, shoppers without a vaccine passport “must be accompanied at all times by a store employee,” according to Quebec’s health ministry. This applies to everyone 13 and older and all commercial businesses that are 1,500 square meters (16,146 square feet) or larger.
Unvaccinated customers can only access pharmacy services in the larger stores and aren’t allowed to buy any other products when accompanied by an employee, the ministry says.
However, groceries are allowed under the vaccine passport mandate for retailers that went into effect Jan. 24, CBC reported.
This has prompted some public outrage and criticism on social media, especially for Walmart Canada on Twitter, where some users began using the hashtag #BoycottWalmart over the province’s new rules.
“As directed by the Government of Quebec, we will implement the vaccine passport at our stores in Quebec,” Walmart Canada replied to one user’s tweet that include the #BoycottWalmart hashtag on Jan. 24. The company repeated the statement several times to different posts.
Walmart also shared a photo of an employee standing in a plexiglass divider inside the store where vaccine passports are scanned — in an effort to refute misinformation on social that suggested the dividers were used to isolate unvaccinated shoppers in a Jan. 25 tweet.
Yesterday we implemented the vaccine passports at our stores in Quebec. Some pictures on social media wrongly suggest that plexiglass dividers at some stores are to isolate non vaccinated customers. This is false. The dividers are for associates when they scan vaccine passports. pic.twitter.com/F56V00nMEE
— Walmart Canada (@WalmartCanada) January 25, 2022
Unvaccinated people are allowed to enter retail businesses that “primarily” sell food, some areas of a shopping mall, pharmacies and gas stations, according to the health ministry.
They’re not allowed to go to bars and restaurants, inside fast food establishments and shopping mall food courts where vaccine passports are required, the agency said.
The agency noted that “a vaccine passport is not required for access to essential services like education.”
Patrick Delisle, who’s in charge of marketing for Canac hardware shops in Quebec, told CBC that the company is “disappointed” by the new vaccine passport rules.
“First of all, we would’ve liked to be treated as an essential service — we’ve been essential since the beginning of the pandemic.”
In Quebec, 85.5% of the population has received at least one vaccine dose, according to its government.
The entire list of places and activities that require vaccine proof in Quebec is listed here.