Beginning Saturday, people in New Brunswick who do not show proof of full vaccination can be barred from entering grocery stores to buy food.

The measure was announced as part of the province’s “winter action plan,” which allows any business, including grocery stores, the option of barring unvaccinated individuals.

According to Health Minister Dorothy Shephard, it comes as the province sees a “very concerning” rise in COVID infections over the last two weeks, particularly among unvaccinated Canadians.

The province reported 97 cases and 2 deaths since Thursday.

The new restriction belongs to the first level of a three-level escalating alert system.

“The measures are not difficult,” Shephard said, adding “the power to keep us in level one is in our hands.”

In a guide published by the federal government, Public Safety Canada names food as one of ten critical sectors of infrastructure, calling its preparation and delivery an Essential Service and Function.

While provinces have been free to manage their own restrictions and lockdowns during the pandemic, grocery stores across the country have until now remained open to everyone.

The announcement comes a day after Shephard warned New Brunswickers against making Christmas travel plans.

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