Low transmission levels mean measures 'unjustified'

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Restrictions unjustified: a survey from UKHospitality has suggested low levels of confirmed cases of coronavirus in hospitality
Restrictions unjustified: a survey from UKHospitality has suggested low levels of confirmed cases of coronavirus in hospitality

Related tags: Health and safety, Legislation

Health officials have hardly touched data provided to them by pubs, according to a survey carried out by UKHospitality (UKH).

NHS Test and Trace will only contact a venue if two or more infections have been connected to it, the trade association said.

UKH asked 568 businesses, with 12,522 venues between them, about their experiences of confirmed coronavirus cases among customers and staff.

Just 104 contacts were received from the Test and Trace system or its equivalents in other countries, over a 14-week period from 4 July.

Some 780 customers had notified businesses they had tested positive for the virus, equating to 0.06 infections per venue.

The notification rate was 0.0003% out of 250m customer visits in the venues surveyed

The sample reported 1,728 infections among employees in this period, an infection rate of 0.48%.

UKH said its data suggests hospitality is not a main driver of coronavirus transmissions and therefore heavy restrictions on the sector are not justified.

Unfairly targeting pubs

Pub companies have also spoken out about the safety of their venues and said confirmed cases connected at their sites have been relatively low.

Nick Mackenzie, Greene King chief executive said earlier this month that the company’s Scottish sites had only received six requests from NHS contact tracers.

“We understand that decisive action needs to be taken to reduce the spread of Covid-19,” he explained. “We have invested millions of pounds in ensuring that our pubs are safe and only had six Test and Protect requests from NHS Scotland in total across our 125 managed pubs since we reopened on 15 July, having served millions of customers.

“It is time to stop unfairly targeting pubs.”

UKH chief executive Kate Nicholls said of the body's survey: “It is fully appreciated not all staff or customer infections will be revealed to the hospitality venues and so these results will represent an underestimate of the true data.”

Review measures

Nicholls continued: “Equally, we have been informed Test and Trace and its equivalents will only contact a venue if there are two or more infections related to that venue, and so this number will not reflect infections identified (though the fact there are relatively low numbers of ‘clusters’ suggests cases are relatively low).

"While there are different data available on infection rates the data we have collected paints a picture of what we have seen and has been identified to the hospitality sector.

"There is an extremely low level of transmission in the hospitality sector, confirming the view measures specifically targeting the hospitality sector are unjustified and should be reconsidered.”

The Department for Health and Social Care told The Guardian​ newspaper: “Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors is vital to help NHS test and trace identify and contain clusters or outbreaks of Covid-19 linked to particular venues.”

“Since 11 September, businesses who are already using their own QR system have been asked to switch to the NHS test and trace QR codes compatible with the Covid-19 app.

"An alternative check-in method must be maintained to collect the contact details of those who don’t have the app or do not have a smartphone.”

Related topics: Health & safety

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