Vaccine passports could see ‘legal concerns’, hospitality and retail chiefs warn

Hospitality and retail bosses have warned that the use of vaccine passports or certification for customers entering venues could face “legal concerns” and create enforcement problems for businesses.

Last week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said pubs and other venues could use vaccine passports, before backtracking slightly to clarify that this may only be introduced once all UK adults have been offered a vaccination.

Speaking as part of a webinar hosted by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality said certification could pose a problem for frontline staff.

“This is quite a challenging issue for a lot of people to wrestle with,” she said.

“If you are in a consumer environment, you have legal concerns regarding age, ethnicity, gender, and I don’t think considering a valid test alongside a vaccine certificate is enough.

“From a consumer position, you will also have issues regarding frontline staff having to enforce the law about this.”

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, echoed these concerns and said that violence against shop workers has already increased sharply during the pandemic due to the enforcement of other restrictions.

“We’re seeing, with mask-wearing particularly and other enforcement issues, that the levels of violence and abuse against people on the front line – be that delivery driver, supermarket or convenience shop worker – there were about 400 incidents a day pre-Covid but they say that has gone up really significantly.

“The paradigm has moved over the past few months as people have become more frustrated over the rules.”

However, Ms Nicholls said she believes that international travel and major events are the “two areas where we think certification could really work”.

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The trade body boss added that she hoped social distancing restrictions can be fully removed by the June 21 road map date without the need for vaccine certification.

“The Government appears to be linking certifications and the removal of social distancing – the price is too high to say it can only be removed with certificates in place,” she said.

“The Prime Minister has said they want to remove everything by June 21 and people see this as ‘life back to normal’.

“From businesses’ point of view, there are a lot of people who have heard they can trade as normal by June 21, but if there is any conditionality or controls here they need to say so soon.

“And then the Chancellor needs to go back as the Budget commitments won’t be sufficient in their current plans.”