Government’s Evidence On Transmission Risk In The Hospitality Sector Challenged

Government evidence on the transmission risk in the hospitality sector has been called into question.

A policy paper published by the government last week Click Here

Refers to 4 types of evidence currently available to understand where transmission is occurring; each they say has limitations, but they are, according to the evidence, consistent in supporting the view that hospitality venues are a significant risk for transmission.

The paper says that “The general picture in the U.K. (and overseas) is that it has only been possible to get R (growth rate of coronavirus) consistently below 1 in places where there have been substantial restrictions on hospitality.

The data examines analysis of outbreaks in Japan, China South Korea and Indonesia highlighting that d largest superspreading events “originated from pubs, clubs, restaurants, gyms and wedding venues”, and goes on to observe that the “largest clusters in Hong Kong were associated with transmission in bars in which face masks were not worn.”

However the data has been called into question CAMRA National Chairman Nik Antona said:

“Considering these restrictions put hundreds of thousands of jobs as well as the very future viability of our pubs at risk, the evidence appears extremely weak.

“Whilst we agree that measures must be taken to curb the spread of the virus, the evidence provided today appears to be based on studies from the start of the COVID outbreak looking at different countries and their bar cultures, which are vastly different to life here in the UK. The research doesn’t consider the mitigating measures that have been introduced by pubs in the last few months such as improving ventilation and social distancing.

“Furthermore, the Government has yet to provide evidence that the requirement to serve a ‘substantial meal’ will reduce transmission or any concrete evidence that the responsible consumption of alcohol increases risk.

“The evidence clearly states that risk comes from a wide range of factors which apply equally to other sectors such as gyms, nightclubs, churches and business meetings. Coupled with the fact the R-rate has increased in some areas where hospitality has been restricted, it is hard not to conclude that pubs are being unfairly singled out for extra restrictions compared to other businesses.

“We are now urging the Government to review the restrictions across tiers to allow wet-led pubs to re-open in Tier 2 and ensure that all affected pubs are provided with a substantial financial support package to get through the crisis.”