According to the SHG, which represents the country’s hospitality chains, its members have served 1,867,000 customers since venues reopened and that cases of Coronavirus at these venues were fewer than 20.
The figures comes after a new study by Public Health England showed that pubs and restaurants were responsible for less than 3% of infections in the run-up to the curfew being imposed south of the border last weekend, compared with schools and care homes, which accounted for over two thirds of all positive tests.
“Bars and restaurants are a crucial part of the solution to combat Covid, not the problem. If they are closed down, even for a short time, all the evidence shows that people will simply socialise at home, without any of the safeguards we’ve spent months implementing,” says SHG spokesman Stephen Montgomery.
“Our sector is the most regulated in the country and is the only safe place left where people can socialise. Between them, our members have served over 1.8 million customers since reopening after the lockdown and have recorded a total of 17 confirmed cases of Covid. That shows how rigorously we have been implementing the rules and how counter-productive it would be to impose further restrictions.
“The current curfew is not the answer, as we have all seen. It leads to overcrowding in the streets, on public transport and to more house parties, which are major sources of infection. Police Scotland broke up 300 house parties last weekend alone and that will only be the tip of the iceberg.”
Pressure is mounting on the Governments in England, Scotland and Wales to reassess the current 10pm curfew on hospitality businesses following today’s announcement in Stormont that hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland can stay open until 11pm.
This week a campaign called #cancelthecurfew is launching to put pressure on the Government to reverse its curfew decision because of the hugely detrimental effect it is having on the hospitality businesses.
SHG has written to senior politicians including the First Minister, Cabinet Secretaries and Holyrood Committee Convenors calling on them to see for themselves the comprehensive steps that hard-working staff are taking to protect customers.
“Our sector has an absolutely vital part to play in combating this virus,” says Montgomery. “We have bent over backwards to ensure staff and customers are protected, with huge efforts being made by the vast majority of responsible operators in social distancing, PPE, track and trace and other hygiene measures.
“If we close down bars and restaurants, all the evidence shows that people will just find a way to socialise in their homes.
“It is absolutely essential that we remain open to provide a safe haven for communities across the country.”