The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has expressed grave concern at the findings of a University of Stirling survey that suggests licensed premises in Scotland did not adhere to strict Covid guidelines when they were open last summer.
A survey of just 29 licensed premises makes a series of claims that the SLTA says cannot stand up to scrutiny based on its low sample. The Stirling survey is also at odds with more credible UK-wide surveys which have consistently found that Covid-19 transmission rates in licensed hospitality venues have been “extremely low”.
One widely reported survey, by industry group UKHospitality, spanned 12,522 hospitality venues across the UK that employ a total of 358,000 people. It found that in the 14 weeks since July 4, 1,728 staff members had been infected with Covid, equating to an employee infection rate of 0.48% across 20 million work shifts across the UK.
According to this survey, the customer infection rate was found to be even lower – with just 780 customers infected with the virus over the 14-week period, which equates to a 0.06% customer infection rate per venue.
Stirling’s survey was carried out on 29 licensed premises during May to August last year (although pubs and restaurants in Scotland were only able to reopen indoors from July 15). Researchers posed as customers.
SLTA spokesman Paul Waterson said: “To present the results of a survey of just 29 premises when there are in the region of 11,500 premises in our sector the length and breadth of Scotland is ludicrous and is in no way representative of this country’s hospitality businesses.
“It has been estimated that the licensed hospitality sector in Scotland has spent £80 million on becoming Covid compliant.
“To the best of our knowledge, and despite asking the Scottish Government on numerous occasions, there are no Scottish-specific stats currently available on virus transmission in licensed hospitality.”