Finance Finance News ‘Small price for freedom’: Retailers back vaccine check-ins for shoppers

‘Small price for freedom’: Retailers back vaccine check-ins for shoppers

Premier Investments chair Solomon Lew wants unvaccinated shoppers banned from malls. Photo: TND
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The retail industry is urging customers to get vaccinated or risk being unable to shop in person for goods like clothes, electronics and homewares.

As the New South Wales and Victorian state governments prepare to reopen shopping centres to vaccinated Australians, the Australian Retailers Association is calling for “seamless” vaccine certificates that make checking in easy for customers.

ARA chief executive Paul Zahra said the industry was looking forward to welcoming back vaccinated people to the shops under reopening plans.

But he said state governments must enable QR code functionality that allows vaccine certificates to be easily verified when shoppers enter.

“We want to allow the Medicare app, which stores the vaccination certificate, to talk to the COVIDSafe app,” Mr Zahra told The New Daily.

“A simple QR check-in will [then] show a green tick if you’re vaccinated.”

NSW and Victoria plan to open non-essential retail to vaccinated people once double jab rates hit 70 and 80 per cent, respectively.

At current vaccination rates, the states will achieve these goals in October and November.

But authorities have suggested vaccine requirements for shoppers will stay in force beyond those dates, raising the prospect that unvaccinated people may be unable to do their Christmas shopping in person.

Importantly, these rules will not apply to essential retail like supermarkets.

Mr Zahra said Australians should get vaccinated so they can hit the shops heading into retail’s peak period over the Christmas holidays.

“[Vaccines] are a small price for freedom,” Mr Zahra said.

“We want to reward people who have been vaccinated so they can get on with their lives.”

Vaccine passports are coming in NSW.
The NSW government will trial its vaccine check-in app next month. Photo: AAP

Lew: Ban unvaccinated shoppers

Retail bosses have begun publicly supporting the government rules after navigating months of rolling lockdown restrictions across Australia’s largest states.

Premier Investments chair Solomon Lew said on Thursday unvaccinated shoppers should be banned from shopping centres.

Mr Lew, the retail veteran behind brands like Smiggle, Peter Alexander and Just Jeans, said malls should also temperature check all shoppers.

“Our strong preference is …. that all persons entering the mall be vaccinated and checked for temperature as well – and that should take place at the point of access,” Mr Lew said.

“The centre owners have an absolute responsibility to ensure that the venue is not only safe for the entire family shopping experience, but to ensure that our retail staff have nothing to fear by trying to earn a living working in retail stores.”

Premier posted a surge in profits on Thursday after taking JobKeeper.

Asked whether he agreed with Mr Lew’s declaration, Mr Zahra said it will be difficult for shopping centres to roll out vaccine passports as there will need to be different rules so the unvaccinated can visit the supermarket.

But he said vaccine certificates for discretionary retail shops are “what we are going to end up with”.

“You’ll have to demonstrate your vaccination,” Mr Zahra said.

“We want a technological solution which makes it easy.”

NSW begins vaccine passport test

State governments are beginning to test vaccine passports that will enable shoppers to show their inoculation status before entering shops.

The NSW government on Wednesday unveiled beta testing for a phone app that will display vaccination status alongside check-in functions.

As The New Daily reported, people who aren’t fully vaccinated likely won’t be able to enjoy the same freedoms as vaccinated people even once 80 per cent of the NSW population has received both doses.

“There will be another date after that by which the unvaccinated people will be able to participate in events or activities,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Wednesday.

Retailer Best & Less has already told its staff to prepare to administer vaccine requirements for shoppers in NSW.

A leaked letter posted to social media on Wednesday outlined plans to begin asking people for vaccine certificates from October.

“We are excited to be reopening our NSW stores in October and would like your help to do so in the safest way possible,” the letter said.

“Customers will need to be fully vaccinated to shop in our stores.”

Although non-essential retailers are supporting vaccine mandates, other essential retailers have played down the prospect of mandatory jabs.

Woolworths Group chief executive Brad Banducci said in August the supermarket chain was wary of its position as an essential food retailer.

“[It’s] really just making sure everyone behaves in a COVID-safe way when they enter our stores,” Mr Banducci said.

“If they do, we can keep them safe without [mandatory vaccinations] having to be an essential to enter our store and use our services.”