Starting Monday, Quebecers will have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter big-box stores with a surface area of more than 1,500 square metres, except for grocery stores or pharmacies.
The Quebec government says it put this measure in place to reduce the spread of the Omicron variant.
Premier François Legault specified on Jan. 13 that two doses of a vaccine would be required to enter large establishments, though that will eventually change to three doses.
For a sector hard hit by the labour shortage, the Retail Council of Canada said it worries checking passports will yet be another burden on businesses.
The move — one of a suite of measures implemented to bring hospitalizations under control — appeared to be bearing fruit, as the number of patients in provincial facilities has declined for four days in a row.
Christophe Fiore, the co-owner of grocery store Fruiterie Roger in Montreal, shared mixed feelings about reopening on Sundays.
He said that while the provincial restriction helped to address a staffing shortage, it also produced a counter-effect by forcing more customers to do their shopping on Saturdays and Mondays.
“It’s not a good solution when it comes to COVID,” Fiore said. “It was not pleasant, Saturdays and Mondays became extremely busy and the rest of the week was quiet.”
Fiore said reopening on Sundays is helping restore balance.
“We are already seeing it, yesterday and today were quieter,” he said.
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Louise Duflos, who works at one of Montreal’s largest no-waste grocery stores, echoed Fiore’s comments, adding the restriction came at the same time as most staff were struggling with COVID-19.
“When we were asked to shut doors on Sundays, there were more COVID cases so fewer people were able to work,” Duflos said. “So it worked out well, less hours but also less staff.”
Having Sundays back on her schedule will bring some welcome financial stability, she added.
“It’s been complicated to deal with all the changes over the last weeks.”
Quebec is also set to expand its vaccination passport program as of Monday, making it mandatory to show proof of immunization in order to enter a number of retail settings.