A study into Covid transmission risks in licensed premises paints an “alarmist and almost wholly inaccurate picture” of the efforts that hospitality businesses have gone to in order to keep people safe, the UK’s foremost industry trade body has warned.
The report, which can be read HERE, was carried out by the University of Stirling over a four-month period last year.
It concluded that “despite the efforts of bar operators and guidance from government, potentially significant risks of Covid-19 transmission persisted in at least a substantial minority of observed bars, especially when customers were intoxicated”.
But UKHospitality Scotland executive director, Willie Macleod, has hit out at the study, insisting it “appears flawed in the extreme”.
He said: “It is limited to just 29 licensed premises out of an estimated 9,000 across the country, with these venues only being visited for a maximum of two hours each. The report states that research was also carried out during the period of May to August 2020, even though businesses were only permitted to reopen in mid-July. We do not agree that the efforts of the researchers are anywhere near enough to accurately represent even a reasonable proportion of the sector, never mind its entirety.
“The vast majority of businesses, owners, managers and staff members have taken a diligent approach to conform with government regulations and guidance. Industry investment in PPE and other measures was around £900m UK-wide and around £90m in Scotland. They have, in some cases, completely remodelled their premises, installed new equipment and overhauled staff training to provide safe venues.
“Published public health data repeatedly shows that hospitality is not where transmission occurs on any significant scale and we refute the suggestion that businesses have broken official guidance. There also is no evidence to support measures such as the curfew, which the report advocates, but other commentators have agreed was counterproductive.”
Mr McLeod said that hospitality businesses have not been responsible for Covid transmissions in any “meaningful way”, but said they continue to bear the brunt of massively damaging restrictions.
“They are too often the victims of alarming rhetoric and specious innuendo. Their future, and the livelihoods of their employees, is at risk if they are forced to shoulder any more burdens introduced on the back of misleading and misguided calls for further restrictions.”