Some retailers in Canada are now requiring proof of vaccination, and not everybody is happy.
Local regulations in the Canadian province of Quebec taking effect this week mandate that big box stores like Walmart
IKEA and Costco
require customers over the age of 13 to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before entering.
“Hi. As directed by the Government of Quebec, we will implement the vaccine passport at our stores in Quebec. We ask for our customer’s patience and understanding as we continue to ensure a safe and efficient customer experience,” Walmart Canada tweeted.
See also: Carhartt CEO says an unvaccinated workforce is a ‘risk that our company is unwilling to take’
But some customers took to Twitter
to express their displeasure with the new guidelines, leading the hashtag #BoycottWalmart to trend on Tuesday. And they were supported by some American shoppers also protesting vaccine mandates.
Another sticking point for critics: viral photos of plexiglass dividers at some Walmarts in Quebec, which some falsely suggested were meant to isolate unvaccinated people trying to enter the store. Walmart has debunked those accusations, however, explaining in tweets that the dividers are for store employees to check vaccine passports.
On the flip side, many on Twitter supported the guidelines and the intent to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect workers and customers from the virus that has infected more than 355.5 million people globally, and killed more than 5.61 million.
This is just a sampling of posts about the Canadian vaccine mandates, of course, and does not indicate that equal numbers of people support and oppose the rule taking effect this week.
But it goes to show that the U.S. is certainly not the only place where vaccine mandates have become a contentious issue.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health experts have repeatedly stated that authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe and help protect people against COVID-19, especially against severe illness, hospitalization and death from the virus. And hundreds of millions of people have safely received a COVID-19 vaccine.
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But some people are chafing at vaccine requirements. Last week, American workwear company Carhartt also drew online backlash after its CEO sent an email to employees stating that its workers will need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Feb. 15. “An unvaccinated workforce is both a people and business risk that our company is unwilling to take,” wrote CEO Mark Valade. Starbucks also received a mixed response when it announced that its employees would no longer be required to get vaccinated against COVID.
And the Supreme Court recently blocked the Biden administration’s attempt to ensure that U.S. business with 100 or more employee require COVID-19 vaccines or frequent testing.
Canada has a slightly higher vaccination rate than the U.S., as 77.46% of the country’s total population is fully vaccinated, according to the Canadian government, compared to 63.4% for the United States, per the CDC’s vaccine tracker. Vaccination rates in Quebec are about the same as the entirety of Canada.
This news comes as the World Health Organization said we could be seeing the end of the “acute phase” of the pandemic in 2022 — if countries pull together and get vaccines out to the global population. Still, while U.S. cases are starting to come down from recent highs, hospitalizations remain above 156,000 a day, and deaths are still above 2,000 a day, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.