Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the “vast majority of transmissions happen in social settings, whether that’s in hospitality or in people’s own homes”.
However sector leaders countered this claim, pointing to Public Health England data which shows that out of 729 new incidents reported in week 37, just 34 were linked to food outlet or restaurant settings.
This compared to 313 incidents in care homes; 193 from educational settings; and 110 from workplaces.
Citing the figures, Hugh Osmond of Various Eateries said: “This problem is again in care homes not in the community as you stated.”
UKHospitality’s Kate Nicholls said: “If we are to have further national lockdowns it is vital that we have transparent and grown up debate on drivers of infection so we can identify and tackle causes through our interventions - clear that hospitality is not a vector of transmission or a source of infection.”
Oakman Inns’ Peter Borg-Neal said: “The reality is that the highest incidents are in care homes which ludicrously suggests thousands of ‘grannies’ going down to the pub.
“Given the existential nature of the threat to our economy and the clear evidence that the Secretary of State for Health has, either deliberately or accidentally, misled the nation, he believes that the situation needs to come under full Parliamentary scrutiny.”
Fuller’s CEO Simon Emeny said: “Why close down a sector who a) Are regulated b) Have been successfully working with strict guidelines c) Have been and continue to work with Government on track and trace. Pubs are not the problem, but can be part of the solution.”
And in a letter to his MP Felicity Buchan, Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh called for a debate on the “highly damaging and undemocratic measures” being proposed
He wrote: “It is entirely wrong to blame the hospitality sector for transmission of the virus, as the Health Secretary has done repeatedly in the media this weekend. There is no evidence that this is the case.
“This feels like an important moment for millions of jobs, the physical and mental health of the population and of course the prospects for our young people. Further restrictions will inevitably lead to further damage.”