From today, supermarkets will have to demand the vaccine passport at the request of the government, which is increasingly tightening the screw on the non-vaccinated.
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“We hope that consumers will be patient and lenient with employees […] They’re just enforcing the rules to keep us open. It’s not an easy time for anyone, ”said Karina Serei, senior director of operations and communications at the Conseil québécois de commerce de retail, on Sunday.
As of today, expect lines outside certain businesses of 1,500 square meters or more, especially during the busy period. The new measure notably affects companies such as Costco, Walmart, Canadian Tire, or RONA.
It will certainly require adjustments over the next few days.
“They have their hands full,” sighs Mme Serei, who wants this to be temporary.
Because one of the major challenges for merchants remains the lack of manpower, which weighs even more heavily when at least one employee must be assigned to the door. For others, it is rather the computer equipment, to verify the QR code, which is the problem.
Everything to avoid a closure
Nevertheless, the priority is to keep the economy open, believes for its part the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, which sees the measure in a good light.
“If that’s the condition for keeping all parts of the economy open, we support it,” comments Michel Leblanc, President and CEO.
The new requirement did not particularly shake Jacques Tanguay, vice-president of Ameublement Tanguay.
“From the first closing of the shops, which was very hard, we equipped ourselves in stores to receive customers in a safe manner. Restaurants have been doing it for months and it hasn’t been a problem,” he says.
He ensures that no one will have to wait outside in the cold.
Among customers, the reactions seemed mixed on Sunday in front of the IKEA in Boucherville where several dozen people were waiting in line: a scene that will probably become more frequent.
“It will not change much for me, commented Jacques Béland, 57, triple vaccinated. All means are useful to encourage people to get vaccinated. »
“I think it’s a way of twisting people’s arms. They should have the right to choose,” said Marie Beauregard, 24, also vaccinated.
– With Jeremy Bernier
A health measure to be applied everywhere?
While some experts believe that it would be worth extending the vaccine passport to all non-essential businesses, others are rather of the opinion that the measure should only be forced into small areas as a last resort.
“In enclosed spaces, there is no certainty that the ventilation is adequate,” recalls Roxane Borgès Da Silva, professor at the School of Public Health at the University of Montreal. Unvaccinated people are at much higher risk of developing severe symptoms. Procedure masks are not perfect for filtering the air we breathe. »
In a context where the healthcare system is saturated, she believes that this kind of precaution should be extended to small businesses, such as hairdressing salons. The SAQ and the SQDC have been doing it since January 18.
A punitive measure
An opinion which is however not shared by Benoît Barbeau, professor in the department of biological sciences at UQAM.
“I’m not sure if it will have that much impact on the transmission as such. I believe that it is a measure which is intended to be more punitive towards those who are not vaccinated, ”estimates the virologist.
In any case, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal (CCMM) and the Quebec Retail Trade Council (CQCD) want passports to be required of small businesses only as a “last resort”, before a closure.
One or two employees
“Often, small stores have one or two employees in store, so it can really be more difficult for them,” explains Karina Serei, senior director of operations and communications at CQCD.
“If it’s absolutely not necessary, we don’t support it,” adds Michel Leblanc, president of the CCMM.
He is asking for a deconfinement plan from the government to help traders predict what is coming.
Especially since in recent days, Quebec has observed a slow decrease in hospitalized patients, while 3,283 beds – 12 less than the day before – were still occupied on Sunday.
The province added 33 deaths to its toll.