A new report on the safe reopening of hospitality from analysts CGA, shows that businesses in the sector “were not significant areas of COVID transmission” in 2020 and argues they should be “central” to reopening plans in 2021.
According to the study from the CGA, National Covid-19 cases do not show a rapid rise in mid to late-August as would be expected if the Eat Out to Help Out (EOHO) scheme was responsible, with the rise in cases instead accelerating from early September onwards.
Going further than this, it argues that evidence from Public Health Directors and Public Health England ‘Weekly Surveillance’ Reports both show that hospitality was linked to a “low number of cases” and is not a leading environment of transmission.
In fact, it added that an unintended consequence of holding back hospitality’s reopening could be the “displacement of millions of people from a well-regulated environment into unregulated domestic environments”.
It comes as it was found the UK hospitality market saw a 54% fall in sales in 2020, equivalent to £71.8bn in sales lost versus 2019.
UK Hospitality, who commissioned the study, said that hospitality is “uniquely well placed” to maintain and enforce Covid-19 mitigation measures and should not be held back from reopening.
Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “The result of the lockdowns and the restrictions placed on the sector last year was crippling. Business was devastated to an extent hitherto unimaginable. 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.”
She added: “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.”