Retail industry rejects covid passports

The retail industry has rejected government plans that would require shoppers to show certificates showing vaccination, test, or immunity status before entering stores.

Prime minister Boris Johnson told the BBC that Covid passports would not be rolled out until “well after” hospitality reopens on 17th May.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC), which represents over 170 major retailers alongside thousands of smaller shops, has said that Covid certificates would not be appropriate in a retail environment.

The backlash comes after the hospitality industry also raised concerns about requiring customers to prove their Covid status.

The government also confirmed that retail and hospitality businesses will be allowed to use new Covid vaccine certificates to determine whether people can enter their venues or not later this year.

“While Covid status certification may play an important role in certain activities, such as international travel, our members are clear that it would not be appropriate or useful in a retail setting,” said Helen Dickinson, chief executive, the BRC. “High streets and other shopping destinations rely on impulse and ad hoc purchases from customers who visit; this would be badly affected by the additional barriers to trade.”

The trade association said that it believes that continuing to follow existing strict safety protocols, including regular cleaning, face coverings, and regular hand washing are “the best course of action to protect staff and customers in stores.”

Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA), said that Covid passports are not a practical solution for retailers in general and particularly for smaller independents.

"It is hard to imagine when and where the ‘passport’ would be checked and by whom," said Goodacre. "For instance, small independent retailers could not afford security staff on the door if that was the requirement, (really not sure how else it could be done)."

He said that if essential shops were exempt from requiring customers to show certificates, the government would be giving those shops "another unfair advantage" by making it easier for shoppers to visit "so called" essential shops instead of the specialist non-essential shops.

"It is a poor idea that needed far more consideration and consultation before being discussed publicly in this way," he added. "We can see possible implementation in circumstances where there is natural verification requirement – tickets for a sporting event, a check-in desk. But in retail the customer journey is far more fluid and I do not see how passports could be verified without placing a huge burden on the retailer."

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