NTI COVID-19 FAQ

Up In The Queen's Arms: The Hospitality Sector Makes Half A Case

Posted on Oct 17, 2020. by NTI

"You really shouldn't be doing that."

"What should I be doing?"

"Not that."

Not helpful. It is the kind of argument that can end long-term relationships. One person offering an opinion, but not an alternative. The NTI newsroom have yet to form an opinion about Sir Kier Starmer, except that he is so much better than his predecessor it makes your brain bleed just to attempt a comparison. It must be great being in opposition, though, shouting about and demanding things knowing you will never have any responsibility for what you are calling for. "Eternal life for all people from Middlesbrough, a bridge between St Ives and Spain, taxing tech companies; we want it NOW." 

This is not exactly the position hospitality and leisure companies find themselves in, but there is a comparison. News broke this week that UK hospitality businesses are mounting a legal challenge to the Government's lockdown restrictions, aiming to halt closure of pubs and bars. The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) argues that ministers have not presented evidence backing up the effectiveness of closing hospitality venues in stopping Covid-19 transmission. Except they have. It is accepted by everyone except three people in America who think that the virus is present only in hotdog mayonnaise, that SARS-CoV-2 is a highly transmissible and pathogenic coronavirus that emerged in late 2019 and has what is called a 'high transmission efficiency'.

Scientists have been busy since January of this year, investigating the most probable causes of the spread of an iceberg of a disease whose tip we can still barely see above the water. Airborne transmission of Covid-19 is now the plausible cause of superspreading events in a call centre in Korea, a choir practice in Skagit County, US, and a restaurant in Guangzhou, China. Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health, University of Southampton, said: "There is good evidence that highlights bars and restaurants as the source of an outbreak." He added: “If we can break that chain of transmission, then we reduce the potential for onward community transmission, hence the reason why there is a focus on the hospitality industry." His research is backed up by multiple studies around the world, just one of which from Hong Kong strongly suggests a large cluster of cases was traced back to a collection of four bars.

Covid-19 is a respiratory disease transmitted as an 'aerosol' from one human to another. The closer we get to an infected person the more viral load we become potentially exposed to. The more alcohol we drink the more relaxed we get (and if we are a student at Northumbria University the more pregnant we get), the less guarded we are and the more susceptible we are to infection. 

The NTIA has a very unfortunately named chief executive, Michael Kill, and he said: "The industry has been left with no other option but to legally challenge the so called 'common sense' approach narrative from Government, on the implementation of further restrictions across the North of England." We understand you are worried sick about the hospitality business, Michael, and get that you don't want closures of businesses to happen, but Miles Robinson, a partner at law firm Mayer Brown said it would be difficult for an NTIA action for judicial review of the Government position to be successful, because all the science (even that spouted by some of the idiots talking in front of very bad shelving on TV) has a common position on the transmission of the Coronavirus. 

The owner of G-A-Y nightclub in Manchester last week said he too would launch a judicial review into the 10pm curfew for pubs, clubs and restaurants. Jeremy Joseph said the curfew was damaging to hospitality businesses and ... "makes absolutely no sense. It does the opposite of protecting people by pushing them onto the street at the same time. They are going from being safe inside venues with staggered closing times to unsafe on overcrowded streets and overloaded public transport."

Except, Jeremy, it makes complete sense, because if these people were not standing outside on the pavements at 10pm they would be in your club doing things you cannot begin to explain to your auntie Diana, and if you were in Government not in lycra you would be doing what the Government are doing.

It is a hugely tough call, but it does make all the sense in the world.

 

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