Unvaccinated Quebecers over 12 years old are now banned from buying groceries at big box stores including Walmart and Costco, while people wishing to access pharmacies inside those outlets will require a store escort.

This comes as Quebec’s new vaccine requirement for retail stores over 1500 square meters took effect today. 

While the new mandate explicitly excluded grocery stores and pharmacies, the Quebec government said they did not consider groceries to be Walmart and Costco’s “principal activity.” 

The box-store ban comes despite statistics showing that Walmart and Costco are among the top three places where Canadians get their groceries. 

Quebec’s health minister Christian Dubé is standing by the measure, claiming that the goal is to protect “both the vaccinated and the non-vaccinated.”

An exemption was added for pharmacies located inside big box stores after pharmacy leaders raised concerns in a letter to the government.

Unvaccinated people who wish to access those pharmacies must be accompanied by a store employee, who will ensure they make no other purchases.

Unvaccinated Quebecers are now subject to the harshest government restrictions in Canada, and some of the strictest in the world. Quebec also requires vaccine passports at government-run liquor and cannabis stores, and a “significant” health tax is on the way. The government also announced that Quebecers would require a third jab for their vaccine passports to remain valid. 

At one point, the Quebec government even considered banning the unvaccinated from regular grocery stores and pharmacies that offer delivery, but it appears they have abandoned the idea.

While some Quebecers interviewed by the mainstream media appeared supportive of Legault’s new policy, others took to Twitter to express their outrage.

Cinema CEO and TV Personality Vinenzzo Guzzo condemned the policy, saying that those who have chosen not to be vaccinated will be subject to humiliation.

Conservative Party of Quebec leader Eric Duhaime called on vaccinated Quebecers to not abandon those who are unvaccinated, and to unite against a government that’s becoming increasingly authoritarian.

A statement on Costco’s website states that as per their Code of Ethics, they are required to comply with the law wherever they operate. 

However, that hasn’t stopped Canadians from calling for a boycott of the chain, with some even cutting up their membership cards. 

While Quebec is the first province to restrict grocery shopping for the unvaccinated, it was not the first to propose the idea.

New Brunswick’s COVID-19 winter plan initially incentivized grocery stores to require proof of vaccination. However, the government backtracked after mass outrage.

When Quebec’s government first announced its vaccine passport system in July 2021, it stated that the passports would not apply to public or essential services. 

It now appears this is no longer the case.