We're Still Feeling the Aftershocks of the 'Non-Essential Worker' Restrictions... Now They've Invented Something Even Worse
The coronavirus pandemic was a way for governments around the world to gain unprecedented control over their citizens’ lives.
One of the most subversive and persistent holdovers from this massive power grab last year came from the designation of “non-essential,” a label governments used to arbitrarily shut down places and ban activities — and this standard is now taking Quebec, Canada, to new depths of tyranny.
Quebec’s Health Minister Christian Dubé announced that beginning Sept. 1, the province will mandate proof of vaccination in order for customers to patronize designated “non-essential public places” like gyms, bars, restaurants and even concert and festival venues, according to The Globe and Mail.
“A fourth wave is inevitable in Quebec,” Dubé said at a news conference in Montreal on Tuesday. “The idea is to give access to these locations only to people who are fully vaccinated, instead of closing them like we have during the first three waves.”
The province will join Manitoba and Prince Edward Island in implementing some kind of vaccine passport system, though the publication called Quebec’s “the most sweeping vaccine passport policy in the country.”
Customers will be required to scan their digital or printed QR code on a smartphone passport app to prove they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine to be allowed in, and unvaccinated people will simply be turned away, according to CTV News.
“It’s only a reading application, that’s it,” Dubé insisted at the news conference to quell fears that other data will be collected through the app.
Although employees won’t be subject to the same requirement, Dubé said people from other provinces in the country will be required to comply to enter as well.
Beginning this week, a sports bar in Quebec City will be one of a few locations to serve as the proving ground for the technology ahead of next month’s official rollout.
The restriction for designated non-essential businesses will apply to the whole province regardless of the infection rates in a given city, town or hamlet ostensibly as a means to incentivize more people to get vaccinated.
As it stands, 81.13 percent of people age 12 and over have received at least one dose of the vaccine, with 59.7 percent of Quebec’s total population fully vaccinated, according to data from the Canadian government— well on the way to the 60 percent standard typically considered to confer herd immunity on a population.
But these vaccine passports have already been tried — and proven unpopular — around the world.
“Tense scenes in Paris as thousands gather to protest the expanded covid passport that comes into effect on Monday,” journalist Andy Ngo noted last week after the mandates went into effect in France and sparked protests.
“The health pass requires vaccination status or negative tests to use flights, trains or to enter recreational venues, malls & health clinics,” he wrote in a tweet with footage of the uprising.
Tense scenes in Paris as thousands gather to protest the expanded covid passport that comes into effect on Monday. The health pass requires vaccination status or negative tests to use flights, trains or to enter recreational venues, malls & health clinics. pic.twitter.com/QLZZgBA2Tn
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) August 7, 2021
Stateside, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has mandated proof of vaccination to patronize city businesses while Los Angeles recently implemented its own version.
“Today the Los Angeles City Council passed legislation to require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for Angelenos to enter indoor public spaces,” L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez tweeted Wednesday.
“Your decision to remain unvaccinated doesn’t just affect you — it affects us all,” she insisted.
Today the Los Angeles City Council passed legislation to require proof of COVID-19 vaccinations for Angelenos to enter indoor public spaces. Your decision to remain unvaccinated doesn’t just affect you–it affects us all.
— Nury Martinez (@CD6Nury) August 11, 2021
That rationale coupled with the power to bar a certain class of people — the unvaccinated — from entering certain places is terrifying.
Sure, they’re selling this as an additional incentive for those hesitant to get the vaccine to finally take the shot, but telling people to get inoculated “or else” amounts to coercion rather than inducement.
Moreover, hidden beneath the surface of this violation of personal freedom is the idea that governments have the power to decide which businesses are essential to citizens’ lives and which are not.
During the beginning phase of lockdowns and restrictions in March 2020, church doors were closed to congregants who would undoubtedly argue that worshipping God is the essential activity, pandemic or not.
Customers were kept away from their local restaurants and other businesses that withered and died because they were deemed non-essential even though those who owned them or were employed there would consider them indispensable to their own lives.
Meanwhile, corporate giants like Amazon and big-box retailers gobbled up all the new demand that came from these closures as they had the blessing of officials who deemed them essential.
This injustice was personified in Angela Mardsen, the owner of the Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill in Sherman Oaks, California, whose outdoor dining was shut down while a movie set’s craft services tent was allowed to operate feet from her shuttered restaurant last winter.
Overzealous government officials have become the sole arbiters of commerce, with shutdowns leading to unintended consequences like supply chain disruptions that are having a ripple effect in the world economy.
They’ve already demonstrated that they’re not ready to give up the power they amassed more than a year ago despite the growing evidence that this virus is something we’ll have to learn to live with permanently.
Now they’ve invented a system where all they have to do is designate a place non-essential and separate people based on their medical status.
Today, it’s proof of vaccination to get into non-essential businesses — but how do we know it will stop there?
If barring people from certain businesses doesn’t work to get everyone vaccinated, there’s nothing to stop these same officials from keeping the unvaccinated out of grocery stores or from cutting off their access to hospitals, banks and churches.
A government that can decide what businesses are essential and which people are acceptable is a government that can take anyone’s rights at will — and people in Quebec, New York and anywhere else this is happening need to wake up before it’s too late.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.