Where is the data linking hospitality to higher transmission of Covid-19?

The  Staff Canteen

As the Prime Minister is set to extend restrictions for hospitality businesses in England by four weeks beyond June 21st, where is the data attesting to higher transmission rates in hospitality?

The data

The government will make its decision based on four variables: The advancement of the vaccine rollout; case rates; hospitalisations and deaths associated with Covid-19, and finally, whether emerging variants could throw the vaccination programme off course if they prooved more infectious or deadly.

Case rates

According to NHS data, case rates are at their highest they have been for three months - The R rate, which shows how rapidly the virus is circulated, is now between 1.2 and 1.4, with Covid cases rising at their fastest rate since the second wave this winter.

Hospital numbers and deaths

Hospital admissions rose from 101 in the first week of June to 158 in the second. The death rate hasn't caught  up with this rise, however, as across the whole of the UK on Sunday June 13th, 8 people with Covid-19 died.

Vaccine rollout 

As of June 11th, 78.5 percent of all adults had received a first vaccine dose, and 57 percent have had both. 85.8 percent of 50s and over have received both doses. 

The Government has said it is on track to offer all people aged 50 and over both doses of the vaccine by June 21, and for all adults to be invited for their first dose by the end of July.

Variants 

The Delta variant of the coronavirus is thought to be 60 percent more transmissible than the Alpha variant, with growth rates in cases doubling every four-and-a-half days, though he impact of infections is thought to be drastically reduced by the vaccination programme.

This is where the contention is, as had it not been for the Delta variant, the government would likely be giving the go-ahead for the lifting of restrictions.

The link with hospitality

However, over the course of the past fifteen months, the government has fallen short of publishing evidence linking higher rates of infection in hospitality settings than elsewhere.

In April, shortly after calls for a judicial review of the government's roadmap to exit the lockdown was dismissed by the High Court, the SAGE committee published a report which advised that although "The highest risks of transmission are associated with poorly ventilated and crowded indoor settings," "eating out in any food outlet or restaurant was not associated with increased odds" of catching Covid. In fact, higher rates of infection were noted among hospitality, leisure and tourism staff due to prolonged exposure to others in close quarters.

So, we ask, why has the sector not been privvy to the data which has justified financially crippling restrictions and closures? 

Read the full paper published by SAGE, Insights on transmission of COVID-19 with a focus on the hospitality, retail and leisure sector.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 14th June 2021

Where is the data linking hospitality to higher transmission of Covid-19?