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N.B. premier considers Quebec's COVID-19 vaccine restrictions as opposition weighs in

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The New Brunswick government hasn’t specified its plans to make life “increasingly uncomfortable” for those choosing not to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but clues are emerging as opposition parties weigh in.

In an interview with CTV earlier this week, Premier Blaine Higgs said Quebec’s decision to tax the unvaccinated could be problematic, calling it a “slippery slope.” At the same time, Higgs noted Quebec’s decision to enforce proof of vaccination at provincial liquor and cannabis outlets had been effective.

Higgs signaled his intent to bring in more restrictions for those choosing not to get vaccinated as he announced New Brunswick would be entering Level 3 of the province’s COVID-19 Winter Plan. 

“Over this two week period we are going to be reevaluating what other restrictions we need to put on to encourage people to be part of protecting the greater good,” said Higgs in an interview Thursday.

As of Friday, 83.3 per cent of the eligible population in New Brunswick has received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

New Brunswick's Interim Liberal Leader Roger Melanson voiced support last week for proof of vaccination being requested at NB Liquor, Cannabis NB, and Service New Brunswick locations.

New Brunswick's Green Party Leader David Coon said those who have chosen not to get vaccinated at this point likely wouldn’t be swayed by further restrictions.

“I don’t think it’s worth investing a lot of time there when we need to focus on getting the vaccination rates up of children substantially, getting the rate up of the booster dose,” said Coon. “And recognizing that every age group beyond children and youth have vaccination rates of 90 per cent or more.”

As of Friday, 51.1 per cent of New Brunswick children between the ages of five and 11 have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

People’s Alliance Leader Kris Austin also didn’t believe any further restrictions on the unvaccinated would make an impact.

“I just don’t think they’re going to budge,” said Austin. “And it’s a shame, because the data is clear that the vaccines do reduce symptoms. I think government just has to continue to make them readily available, and continue to encourage people to get the shot.”

Government employees and health-care workers in New Brunswick are already required to be vaccinated, while proof of vaccination is mandatory for most indoor public settings.

Higgs said any decision to impose further restrictions will come after discussions with cabinet and public health.

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