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Hospitality sector is on its knees, but we cannot let it fail


The point I wanted to make was this. Restaurants and pubs reopened on July 4 after 106 days of mandated closure and a Herculean effort to become Covid-secure. This involved enhanced hygiene, social distancing, new rules and guidance for staff to follow, and enhanced regulation from local government.  

In August, Eat Out to Help Out resulted in more people visiting our venues on Monday to Wednesday, traditionally the quietest days of the week.  We served millions more customers, and yet cases remained low.

In September (a time when people started returning from foreign holidays, going back to work, school or university) cases started climbing. A lot of people jumped to the conclusion that hospitality must be to blame. Since then more restrictions have been imposed. These include the rule of six, national curfew, local restrictions and stricter national restrictions in Scotland as of Friday.  

Where is the evidence that links cases to hospitality? It certainly isn’t to be found in the Public Health England data, which shows only 3pc to 5, of Acute Respiratory Incidents or Covid-19 Clusters can be linked to hospitality. 

It also isn’t to be found in NHS Test and Trace back-tracing data, which shows only about 6pc of close contacts were in “leisure” (of which hospitality is a subset).  Even though the most common event recorded by people who tested positive was eating out (14.6pc), this doesn’t mean hospitality is the cause or that by removing hospitality you would reduce infection. It just means that people who contract coronavirus are likely to be those who socialise. 

Some politicians, journalists and members of the public would like to believe that we can control whether and when people socialise. In reality, people are socialising, whether you like it or not.  Many are doing so within the guidelines/laws, quite a few (including some students, England footballers and senior politicians) are not. We should be focusing on where people socialise.


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