At a virtual House of Commons Science and Technology Committee yesterday (Wednesday 27 January), public health director in Sheffield Greg Fell and his counterpart in Staffordshire Richard Harling said transmission mostly happened in people’s homes.
Fell told MPs: “Most of the transmission events are households, within households, or household to household transmission.
“Hospitality doesn’t crop up as a terribly big risk on our radar. Certainly when we look at the common exposure dataset, hospitality certainly isn’t a huge risk.
“There will have been transmission in hospitality but it is certainly nowhere near the top of my risk radar.”
Harding added: “Back in the summer and autumn, once you put transmission between household members aside, the next most important one was transmission between different households.
“Hospitality did feature but much lower down the list. At the moment, with hospitality closed, our main one now is other businesses, [and] other workplaces.”
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the evidence confirms what the trade body has stated before and outlined how the investment hospitality venues have made in ensuring venues Covid-secure should be taken into consideration.
This includes rigorous procedures pubs, restaurants, cafés and other businesses in the trade put in back in the summer in order to be allowed to reopen such as screens, hand sanitiser, movement and removal of furniture, staff training and more at a time when footfall was reduced due to distancing rules.
Not hotbeds of infection
Nicholls added: “Hospitality venues are not the hotbeds of infection many people have arbitrarily chosen to portray.
“This should come as no surprise when you consider the huge investments made by the sector to make venues Covid-secure, in tandem with working systems adopted to ensure staff and customer safety.
“The witnesses to the select committee are by no means the first to provide scientific evidence to support our case – there has long been an absence of any convincing body of evidence to uphold claims of high transmission in hospitality.
“This fact must inform planning for a clear route back to trading for our bruised and battered sector, especially if hospitality is to fulfil its optimum potential in getting the country’s economy back on track.”