A new 17-page report on the safe reopening of hospitality, commissioned by UKHospitality from analysts CGA, shows that businesses in the sector were not significant areas of COVID transmission in 2020 and argues they should be central to reopening plans in 2021 opening at the same time as non-essential shops.
The new analysis, which covered 5,200 pubs, came only a day after the publication of a report by Stirling University suggesting that hospitality was not safe when it came to the transmission of Covid-19, after surveying only 29 premises. The CGA report also included statistics from 200,000 customers which backed up the report’s conclusion that hospitality was, and is, safe, with respondents rating their level of satisfaction at 86% with regard to safety measures and 95% satisfied with hygiene levels.
Entitled the ‘Safe Reopening of Hospitality’ it examines why hospitality was not a significant area of transmission in 2020 and sets out the case for hospitality re-opening at the same time as non-essential shops and suggests that the unintended consequences of restrictions on hospitality including curfews and a ban on alcohol, should be considered carefully, and backs this up with statistical evidence.
According to the study:
- hospitality will not be responsible for significant transmission in Spring 2021 and beyond
- Reports linking the Eat Out to Help Out scheme to a rapid rise in COVID cases were linked to a single, discredited study
- Hospitality is uniquely well placed to maintain and enforce Covid-19 mitigation measures and should not be held back from reopening – it should be seen as equally high priority as non-essential retail and next in line after priority sectors such as schools.
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said, “Reopening has to be done correctly at the first time of asking. A barrier to that could be the incorrect assumption that our businesses pose a risk to public health. We know that hospitality businesses are safe and all the data has shown we are not a significant area of transmission. This report is a vindication of everything we have been saying and a forceful argument for allowing us to reopen and welcome back our customers.
“Hospitality can lead the economic recovery of the country. We can provide jobs to people who have lost them and host millions who are desperate for some enjoyment after a torrid year. This report shows we can do it safely, too. The Government should take note and ensure it allows hospitality to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.”
Some key points from the report:
It highlights evidence from Public Health Directors and Public Health England ‘Weekly Surveillance’ Reports which show that hospitality was linked to a low number of cases and is not a leading environment of transmission. In fact, the report suggests an unintended consequence of holding back hospitality’s reopening could be the displacement of millions of people from a well-regulated environment into unregulated domestic environments.
The researchers looked at data covering the w/c 9th of July to 19th of September, by far the busiest period for hospitality since the pandemic began, an average of just 5.2% of infections could be linked to ‘food outlet/restaurant’ settings according to Public Health England. By far and away the leading institutional drivers of infection at this time were educational settings, workplaces and care homes. Similarly, Public Health England data for the 22nd of October showed hospitality venues were linked to just 2.7% of cases for this period.
Further to this, research conducted by UK Hospitality, British Institute of Innkeepers and British Beer and Pub Association (shows that of “22,500 pubs, restaurants and hospitality venues surveyed just 1% said they were linked by NHS Test and Track to an incidence”.
Regarding the curfew it highlighted: in mid-September 2020 when the 10pm curfew was introduced to hospitality venues, according to research at the time, of those consumers most likely to revisit hospitality, a full 30% planned to breach regulations and ‘invite friends back to my house or go to a friend’s house to continue socialising’ following the news of the tighter restrictions.
The report states, “Given this risk, it is also worth highlighting the lack of evidence behind the 10pm curfew itself, with Sir Patrick Vallance himself admitting recently that “there was no hard evidence” that the 10pm curfew prevented coronavirus spreading, and that” it’s not something you can model with any degree of accuracy and say a particular time will give you a particular result”.
It suggests, “Following such a stark admission, it is worth seriously considering the risk of keeping hospitality closed based on a series of dubious and unfounded bases, and instead encouraging the more dangerous social mixing between households.
The report also reveals that 200,000 consumers who visited the sector did not have the same experience as the Stirling researchers. Results from this large-scale survey shows 86% satisfied with Covid-19 safety measures (62% very satisfied), 95% satisfied with hygiene levels, 88% satisfied with how staff followed the measures, and 92% feeling the measures in place were ‘clear’.
A similar picture emerges too from a survey of hospitality staff with 82% of staff feeling, very/quite safe working in their venue, 89% satisfied with Covid-19 measures in places, and 89%, of staff having received Covid-19 specific training before returning to work.
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