The imposition of the vaccine passport in all non-essential businesses with an area of 1,500 square meters and more in Quebec is creating some discontent and concern in the retail sector.
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“I seriously question myself; I do not see […] rational link between the objective and the means. I don’t think you need to be a public health specialist to anticipate that this measure will have a very minimal impact on the vaccination rate, ”responded Martin Boucher, CEO of the Boucher Sports Group, owner of Sports Experts franchises. , Atmosphere and L’Entrepôt du Hockey.
Like others, the businessman wonders about the decision to impose this measure only in shops with a larger area. “I don’t think that makes any sense, it’s a cannon to kill a fly.”
Mr. Boucher also fears that the addition of the restriction will hurt the customer experience and further lead to a sales flight to giants like Amazon.
At a press conference Thursday, the Prime Minister confirmed the reopening of businesses on Sunday from January 23 and the imposition of the vaccine passport in large-scale stores from January 24, except for pharmacies and shops. food.
“A Cotsco will have to apply for a vaccine passport, a Walmart will have to require a vaccine passport”, underlined the Minister of Health, Christian Dubé.
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The Quebec Association of Building Materials Retailers (AQMAT) is also wondering about the criteria for the imposition of the vaccine passport in businesses.
“Would COVID spread more in places of a certain size?” Asks its president Richard Darveau sarcastically.
The one who represents all the renovation centers in the province does not intend to steer clear of the latest measures. This does not prevent it from judging them “discriminatory” or even “unfair”.
“What is the scientific basis for the government to make such a decision?” Is the contamination really greater in the warehouse stores? ”
The AQMAT says it welcomes the government’s will and supports the fight against the spread of the virus. “But increasing the daily operations in shops while allowing some, the smallest, to continue their business normally, this is called double standards,” says Mr. Darveau, for whom the barrier measures already in place (mask, visor, plexi, 2 meters, cleaning baskets, disinfectant gel, etc.) are sufficient.
Photos Yves Daoust and archives, Jean-François Desgagné and Martin Chevalier
Retailers point out that Quebec has presented no scientific justification to support its decision to impose the vaccine passport on supermarkets. Above, a RONA where there will be no access control (on the left) and another where there will be (on the right).
In the renovation sector, centers over 16,000 sq. Ft.2 account for only 15% of stores, but some 40% of total industry sales.
This is the case with Lowe’s, which confirms that it wants to follow the rules and adjust its “business practices accordingly in order to offer a pleasant and safe shopping experience for all. [ses] clients».
A sacrificed customer experience
For its part, the Retail Council of Canada fears that this measure will put additional pressure on staff when several businesses are already suffering from a lack of manpower.
“Our primary concern is the staff. Many businesses are having difficulty having enough manpower to manage customer service, management of shelves and surveillance of the premises at the same time because of sanitary rules ”, affirms President Michel Rochette.
The latter is also worried about the effects on the customer experience and the “tensions” that this will cause in stores. In particular, it provides for longer queues at certain traders.
At Ameublements Tanguay, management says it has already implemented a formula in its stores to ask customers for the vaccine passport without having an additional impact on the experience.
“We have already been ready for a year. Our way of welcoming customers is already structured for this, ”confides the boss, Jacques Tanguay.
Several unanswered questions
Martin Jolicoeur and Jean-Michel Genois Gagnon
If the vaccination obligation in supermarkets, announced Thursday by Quebec, seemed clear at first glance, its concrete application was much less so for the retailers targeted by this new measure.
“I would tell you that we are asking the same questions as you,” replied the president of the Quebec Retail Council, Michel Rochette last night. And as long as we haven’t seen the decree, we won’t be able to inform our members. The devil, as we often say, is hiding in the details ”.
We already know, however, that pharmacies, food stores and other essential businesses will be exempt from the measure.
One of the main unknowns concerns the technical devices that will be made available to retailers to verify customers’ vaccination passports. For example, can an employer force his employee to download a vaxicode reader to his cell phone?
“The question is perhaps less asked in a restaurant that received perhaps a few dozen customers per evening. But things are different for certain supermarkets, in the electronics sector for example, which can receive several hundred customers per hour, ”raises Jean-Guy Côté, president of the Quebec Retail Council.
In such a case, where the cell phone became a work tool, would the employer be required to provide one to the employees? And if so, could retailers expect a contribution from the government?
The two sectoral organizations consulted were not in a position to comment with certainty on the subject. But according to various other sources close to the government, the latter does not intend to provide such assistance to retailers. Like the approach applied with restaurateurs, each retailer would be responsible for their equipment.