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Mobile ticketing drive is excluding older people, charity warns

Age UK, the charity which represents the interest of senior citizens, has warned that older people are being excluded from live events due to the widespread push towards digital ticketing.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the switch to digital, with events organisers for some years pushing away from traditional paper tickets for financial, operational and environmental reasons.

In the UK, Sports Grounds Safety Authority (SGSA) guidance says that mobile ticketing should be used for any events taking place during the pandemic. Mobile ticketing allows organisers to more easily identify and verify those attending as well as enabling contactless entry to reduce the risk of virus spread.

A 2019 survey by the Oxford Internet Institute found that almost a fifth of Britons were not online while nearly half of people over 65 do not own a smartphone.

“At the moment it seems that many businesses in the events and entertainment industry are requiring customers to book online or via a smartphone, which automatically rules out many older people,” Caroline Abrahams, the charity director of Age UK, told The Guardian.

“A policy of this kind therefore risks widening the digital divide and reducing the opportunities for many older people to go out and enjoy socialising once again.

“While we fully understand the need for event venues like Wimbledon to prioritise infection control, we also think they need to ensure they are being genuinely inclusive, and that means offering an easily accessible offline booking option as well.”

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