Walmart has introduced a two-class vaccine passport system in the Canadian province of Quebec which restricts those without proof of vaccination to grocery and pharmacy products only and requires them to wait in a box before being escorted by staff as they shop.
Under the new rules, those who show proof of vaccination will be free to shop. Those who don’t show proof of vaccination will be told to wait in a blue box until a member of staff is available to escort them as they shop. This member of staff will then follow them around the store and make sure they don’t buy any prohibited goods.
The new restrictions were introduced in response to an expansion of Quebec’s vaccine passport rules which now require all stores with surface areas of 1,500 surface areas or more to demand that customers show a vaccine passport unless they’re shopping for groceries or pharmacy products.
This two-tier vaccine passport system has been blasted by store owners with many expressing concern about potential backlash from customers and their struggles to find staff to enforce this vaccine passport system amid ongoing labor shortages.
“Mainly, we’re disappointed, especially after being considered an essential business for two years,” Patrick Delisle, marketing director for the Canac hardware and construction chain, told the Montreal Gazette.
“We’ll need to tell clients we can’t serve them and, because of the delays it causes, there will be moments when it’s minus 30 outside and there could very well be 50, 60, or 75 people waiting in line,” Delisle added.
Delisle said Canac has hired GardaWorld security guards for each of its 31 stores and will be assigning one or two employees to the task of vaccine passport enforcement at each store. He estimates the cost of complying with the new rules will be a staggering $100,000 per week.
On Twitter, Walmart’s vaccine passport rules also faced mass pushback with “#BoycottWalmart” trending for several hours and Twitter users describing the measures as “cruel and humiliating” and the blue box as “a box of shame for the unvaccinated.”
The introduction of vaccine passports at Walmart and other big-box stores follows the Quebec government mandating vaccine passports in alcohol and cannabis stores last week.
This vaccine passport expansion is the latest example of how this technology, which was initially positioned as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus, is being used to surveil the population and crush civil liberties.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already admitted that Omicron breakthrough infections in people who are fully vaccinated are “likely to occur” and Canada’s Council of Chief Medical Officers of Health (CCMOH) says that it’s still “gathering information on how well vaccines work against transmission.”
Despite these admissions from leading health authorities and groups, vaccine passport systems continue to expand and impose additional burdens on the unvaccinated.
Queensland recently announced similar rules that will allow essential businesses like grocery stores and pharmacies to introduce vaccine passports. In Italy, vaccine passports have been mandated in banks and post offices – a policy that could make it difficult to claim their pensions. And in Washington, vaccine passports have been combined with photo ID.
French President Emmanuel Macron went one step further in a recent interview where he acknowledged that he wants to “piss off” those without a vaccine passport.
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Dr. Benoît Barbeau, a virologist at the Université du Québec à Montréal, said he believes the latest vaccine passport restrictions in Quebec are largely punitive in nature and noted that while it’s possible for transmission in larger stores, he believes they’re less risky than smaller, more contained spaces.