Opinion

Infection rates and restrictions - has the anti-hospitality bubble burst?

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Scotland needs to follow the Welsh on lifting restrictions

Related tags: Government, Wales, Scotland, Pubs, Coronavirus, Restrictions

While it’s good news that Wales has now pledged to lift restrictions on pubs, the question does remain - what purpose did they serve in the first place?

Irritatingly, the restrictions aren’t being lifted quite as quickly as they were imposed, with the Welsh Government, headed up by Mark Drakeford, announcing the changes will take place at the beginning of February.

Drakeford has been forced to face the fact that case numbers are dropping and there is no justification for the punitive restrictions remaining in place, although why they can’t be immediately lifted is beyond me. It’s like one last petulant kick in the ribs from the bully that hasn’t got his own way.

Of course the shift away from the nonsense hard line restrictions in Wales will now throw the spotlight further north to our Scottish brethren and the increasingly untenable position of Nicola Sturgeon.

While England, and even now Wales, are talking about exit plans from covid controls and a return to normality, allowing pubs and society to operate normally, Sturgeon and her minions are continuing to talk about maintaining restrictions for weeks if not years ahead.

I’m baffled as to how out of step one leader can possibly be, and it does nothing to dispel the feeling she’s got a grudge against our sector.

But on top of all this, the facts speak for themselves. In both Scotland and Wales, infection rates have pretty much tracked the same trajectory as the rest of the UK - so what impact have those punitive restrictions had on controlling infection?

None whatsoever.

We’ve said from the very start that hospitality is not the problem, if anything, it should be part of the solution. Pubs have behaved responsibly throughout the pandemic, following the rules, and creating safe and hygienic spaces for people to socialise safely.

All of that has been totally ignored by all of the UK Governments, despite their claims of “following the science”, and our sector has been repeatedly, and unfairly, targeted - even more so by the devolved Governments.

I’d like to think that the Welsh and Scottish experiments might prove, once and for all, that restrictions on hospitality have no impact, but I’m not going to hold my breath - logic and reason seem to be in short supply when it comes to Government policy on the hospitality sector. 

Related topics: Legislation

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