Scottish Hospitality Group members that employ over 6000 people and have a combined turnover (in normal times) of £275m have revealed that there have been only 32 positive cases of COVID-19 among staff since July – less than one per cent. Eight of those were between July and October – the period before the Scottish tier system was introduced and in which the Eat Out to Help Out scheme was in place, which allowed customers to dine and drink alcohol indoors in a safe and controlled environment.
Conversely, there have been relatively more cases among staff since the lockdown restrictions of 26 December that have prevented many businesses from operating at all.
Customer infection numbers remained at a consistent level until Christmas before dropping off completely with the tighter rules. In total though, firms in the group have only been notified of 30 cases among millions of customers.
Over the period from July to the end of January, staff at SHG premises in businesses including The DRG Group, Buzzworks Holdings, Signature Pubs, Montpeliers, Manorview Group, Lisini Pub Co, Caledonia Inns, G1 Group, The Townhead Hotel Lockerbie and Mor-Rioghain Group have worked around 1,150,000 hours, meaning there has been only one confirmed case for every 36,000 hours worked.
Stephen Montgomery (pictured), spokesperson for SHG, said, “This clearly shows that we’re all better off when responsible hospitality businesses can provide safer places to socialise than when getting tougher is driven to other areas, such as house visits. Our figures prove that Scotland’s pubs, restaurants and hotels are part of the solution rather than being responsible for the spread of the virus, or – to quote the First Minister – ‘a hot spot’.
“Instead of criticising from a position of ignorance, we’d urge politicians and Holyrood candidates to visit their local hospitality business as soon as restrictions allow and see for themselves how much our committed staff are doing to keep everyone safe.”
“After the worst December in living memory, we have already had a tough start to 2021. In December alone, our members lost £9.6m of revenue – money that would normally keep business afloat until the spring. It’s vital that the Scottish hospitality sector is well supported until we can reopen safely and play our crucial role in rebuilding the Scottish economy.”
Total confirmed positive cases in SHG members
• 15 July – 9 October: Staff (8), Customers (15)
• 10 October – 24 December: Staff (24), Customers (15)
• 24 December – 31 January: Staff (16), Customers (0)
A study by Public Health England last year also found that pubs and restaurants were responsible for less than 3% of infections, compared to schools and care homes, which accounted for over two thirds of positive tests.