The study, commissioned by trade body UKHospitality from analysts CGA, contends that hospitality should be central to reopening plans in 2021 as it remains 'a safe and well-regulated environment for customers to visit'.
Tackling long-standing arguments that the July reopening of hospitality and the Eat Out To Help Out scheme were responsible for a rapid rise in cases in 2020, the report references Public Health Directors and Public Health England's ‘Weekly Surveillance’ reports, both of which confirm that hospitality was linked to a low number of cases and is not a leading environment of transmission.
The data shows what has long been argued by the industry that cases remained low throughout July and August, suggesting it's highly likely the rapid rise in cases from early to mid-September was instead driven by the reopening of schools.
It also adds that minimal cases of Coronavirus transmission are linked directly to hospitality venues.
Data covering the week commencing 9 July to 19 September, by far the busiest period for hospitality since the pandemic began, shows that an average of just 5.2% of infections could be linked to ‘food outlet/restaurant’ settings.
The report concludes that hospitality is uniquely well placed to maintain and enforce Covid-19 mitigation measures and should not be held back from reopening, and argues for a reconsideration of the current reopening roadmap that is understood to prioritise opening of non-essential retail before hospitality.
“The result of the lockdowns and the restrictions placed on the sector last year was crippling. Business was devastated to an extent hitherto unimaginable," says Kate Nicholls, UKHospitality chief executive.
"Many businesses are barely surviving and cannot afford another year with restrictions on the scale of 2020.
“Reopening has to be done correctly at the first time of asking. A barrier to that could be the incorrect assumption that our businesses pose a risk to public health. We know that hospitality businesses are safe and all the data has shown we are not a significant area of transmission. This report is a vindication of everything we have been saying and a forceful argument for allowing us to reopen and welcome back our customers.
“Hospitality can lead the economic recovery of the country. We can provide jobs to people who have lost them and host millions who are desperate for some enjoyment after a torrid year. This report shows we can do it safely, too.
"The Government should take note and ensure it allows hospitality to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.”