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Grocery stores in Canada’s New Brunswick province are now allowed to lay down the law with shoppers who aren’t vaccinated against Covid-19: No jab, no food.

The provision – which was contained in a “winter action plan” announced by New Brunswick Health Minister Dorothy Shephard on Friday – gives grocery stores, malls and salons the option of either enforcing physical-distancing rules or requiring proof of vaccination to enter their establishments.

 

“With winter comes colder weather, shorter days, more time spent inside and increased opportunity for COVID-19 to spread,” Shephard said. “It is important we have a plan in place that ensures our healthcare system is not overwhelmed, but also considers the mental, physical and financial health of New Brunswickers.”

Without acknowledging issues around denying access to food, Shephard suggested that abiding by the new measures won’t be difficult. “They are small actions that each person can take, but when combined, can make a big difference,” she said.

Other new restrictions include limiting household gatherings to 20 people, capping outdoor gatherings at 50 people and requiring unvaccinated people to avoid indoor gatherings – in other words, a lonely and potentially hungry Christmas for the unjabbed. Masks are now also required in outdoor public places when physical distancing can’t be maintained.

Citizens must register to travel, and all unvaccinated people entering the province must be quarantined and take a test to prove they’re not infected after 10 days in isolation. Tougher restrictions, such as banning non-essential travel within the province, will kick in if new cases or hospitalizations rise to certain levels.

New Brunswick is apparently the first Canadian province to allow grocers to ban unvaccinated shoppers. For instance, under Ontario’s requirements for vaccine passports, no one can be prevented from accessing medical care or buying food.

The province has recorded 133 Covid-related deaths since the pandemic started, according to local government data. About 80% of New Brunswick’s residents have been fully vaccinated against the virus.

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