Shops will struggle if the government scraps Covid-19 restrictions while keeping self-isolation rules in place, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has claimed.
The warning comes just days after the government’s policy to relax face mask and social distancing laws was criticised for endangering retail staff.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson said the “exponential growth” in coronavirus cases had already whittled down employee numbers.
“We are seeing some vacancy rates of around 20 per cent,” she told the Commons business select committee.
“And only some of that is directly people with Covid – a lot is the indirect consequence of having to isolate, irrespective of tests or whether one has had two vaccines.
“I think it is an immediate issue that comes with the lifting of restrictions.”
Some believe government plans to lift coronavirus restrictions in England from July 19 will disproportionately hurt shop workers.
“Many retail workers are at a greater risk of catching the virus and bringing it home to their families,” Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said two days ago.
“We are asking the public to show their support for shop workers by continuing to wear face coverings when they shop.
“These key workers must be valued, respected and protected.”
A study last year found that staff with “customer-facing” roles were five times more likely to catch Covid-19 than their colleagues.