COVID Vaccinations Quadruple in Quebec After Province Requires Them to Buy Booze, Marijuana

A new COVID-19 vaccine requirement in Canada is having a significant impact, according to recent vaccination rates.

The province of Quebec on Thursday introduced a rule requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for residents seeking to purchase alcohol or marijuana. Marijuana was nationally legalized in Canada in October 2018 after the passage of the Cannabis Act.

In the wake of this new rule, the first dose of vaccination appointments in Quebec quadrupled over the course of one day, according to the New York Daily News. When the requirement was announced, the province averaged about 1,500 appointments per day. Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé announced on Friday that the number had climbed to around 6,000.

Quebec’s new vaccination requirement for the purchase of alcohol and marijuana has a major impact. Above is a representative image of marijuana plants.
Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

The requirement will come into effect in Quebec on January 18. The rule applies specifically to Crown corporations managed by the State, the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) and the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC). These entities are the only places in Quebec where residents can purchase alcohol and marijuana products, respectively.

As of January 1, approximately 78% of Quebecers were fully vaccinated. It has the fifth highest rate of complete vaccination in any province in Canada, behind British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador. This rate is also higher than any state in the United States, ahead of the 77.8% of Vermont residents.

The new requirement was introduced as most Canadian provinces, despite relatively strong vaccinations, began to see spikes in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations amid the wave of Omicron variants. According to The Washington Post, the seven-day average in Quebec for new cases was around 40,000 when the rule was introduced, up from 3,000 just a month earlier. Quebec is home to Montreal, the second largest city in Canada in terms of population.

“Yeah, it’s very difficult right now,” Dubé said Thursday. “But we are [taking] all measurements, [to] make sure we minimize the impact on our people, on our system. “

Residents of Quebec have already been required to show proof of vaccination in places like health facilities, sports venues, cinemas, bars and clubs, some exemptions for adults and children under 13. The province also instituted a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew every night as part of its efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

While the vaccine requirements have had an impact in the fight against the virus, they have also been greeted with derision in some corners of the world. On New Years Day, a man in Melbourne, Australia lit himself and his vehicle on fire after apparently launching a vocal tirade against the city’s various vaccine requirements for public places.

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