The British Retail Consortium has joined growing opposition to the introduction of Covid status certificates for shoppers.
The retail body has joined many businesses in rejecting Covid-status certificates, along with MPs that have vowed to oppose the plans under consideration.
As “nonessential” retailers, including toy shops, prepare to reopen next week, the BRC said checking Covid status certificates, or any form of documents, at the door would not be appropriate in a retail setting.
“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, the chief executive of 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.”
Helen said that sticking to existing safety protocols – such as regular cleaning, face coverings and hand sanitising – was the best way to protect staff and shoppers.
The certificates are intended to identify those with a low risk of passing on infection by indicating those who had received a Covid vaccine, a recent negative test result, or antibodies from a natural infection within the last 180 days.
New West End Company chief executive Jace Tyrrell, has also rejected the idea of status certificates, although he believes that the safety of customers and retail staff needs to be carefully balanced with the need to get the economy moving again in London. He stated: “The government should be considering all options that could get city centres thriving again, however while certificates may be the correct option for large capacity venues, we would not recommend using it for retail stores.”
Meanwhile, Andrew Goodacre, chief executive of the British Independent Retailers Association, said: “BIRA does not think that Covid passports are appropriate or practical for all retail, and especially independent retail. It is hard to imagine when and where the ‘passport’ would be checked and by whom. For instance, small independent retailers could not afford security staff on the door if that was the requirement.”
Opposition from the retail trade came as 41 Tory MPs vowed to oppose the certificates. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also indicated that he would vote against the scheme. “I don’t think the government knows what its plan is,” he said. “One day it’s to cover pubs, the next day it’s not; one day it’s a vaccine passport, the next day it’s a certificate; one day it’s a certificate, the next day it’s a test. We do not support these plans in their current forms.”
The SNP, the third biggest party in parliament, also signalled it was likely to vote against introducing Covid status certificates. Ian Blackford, the group’s Westminster leader, said: “On the basis of the information available, there is not a proposition in front of us that SNP MPs could support.”