Monday 30 November 2020

What's the evidence for destroying the pub trade?

In its efforts to justify carpet-bombing the nation’s pubs, Sage have cobbled together a handful of studies to give it the veneer of science. None of the studies suggest that pubs or bars are uniquely dangerous, many of them don’t mention pubs or bars at all, and most of them involve outbreaks in Asia in the early days of the pandemic when there was little or no social distancing. 

Sage refuse to acknowledge the drop in infections in places like Manchester and Newcastle under the old Tier 2 rules. They do not even attempt to justify the plan to require meals to be served with drinks. This policy alone will lead to the unnecessary closure of thousands of ‘wet pubs’ and other licensed venues, such as snooker halls and casinos. Businesses which could be operating safely will be forced to furlough their workforce and accept government grants to stand idle. Who benefits from such wilful destruction? 

I've been looking at the evidence...   

The new tier system will close or severely incapacitate pubs in the 99% of the country that will be in Tiers 2 and 3. This amounts to carpet bombing the pub trade. Some 25,000 hospitality venues have closed permanently this year and 30,000 have yet to reopen. Although grants are available to businesses that are rendered temporarily unviable by the tier restrictions, these often fall short of what is needed to pay rent, debt, taxes and other costs.

Since the hospitality industry is Britain’s third biggest employer, with 3.2 million workers before the pandemic hit, you might expect the Government’s evidence to be strong. It is anything but. On Friday, the Government published a short policy paper titled ‘Transmission risk in the hospitality sector’ which ignores all the counter-measures introduced to make hospitality venues low-risk, and relies on a handful of studies cobbled together by SAGE which have no relevance to the British pub trade as it currently operates.


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