NHS Track and Trace data, which has been released on a weekly basis, shows the hospitality sector (with all it’s Covid-Safe measures, brought in at great expense) makes little or no difference whatsoever to the overall infection rate.
Yet the punishment of the pubs goes on, with vast numbers in the North and Midlands threatened with being closed till at least spring. I say “at least” because how many of them will reopen ever? After months of inactivity, it could then take years to build back trade, with people having changed their eating and drinking habits – ordering take-aways and sneaking in their friends’ back door to socialise.
We also have the ridiculous situation where whether your pub opens or not could depend on what test is used in the area. In Liverpool, where mass testing took place for the first time, Lateral Flow Tests, agreed by Public Health England as 99.7% accurate, showed 80% fewer cases than standard PCR tests. It was the first major comparison and shows that the whole government strategy is possibly based on flawed data from tests that were never designed to detect Covid.
Even the new 11pm closing time won’t help much. Bars still must close at 10pm, but customers now have an hour to finish their food and drink. It’ll stagger the rush to get home and reduce crowding on buses/trains etc, but nowhere near as much as dropping the regulation altogether would have done.
Tier Two is to be more in line with previous Tier Three. Alcohol can only be served
alongside a “substantial meal” and punters will only be able to dine with people they live with indoors. Expect to pay £4 for a basket of chicken nuggets and chips – with a “free” pint included.
Pubs in Tier Three are to be click and collect or drive through only. Hardly helpful for the small back-street boozers that so many of us prefer to socialize in. Resentment will also set in, with people from the north enviously looking at the counterparts in the south, where pubs are far less likely to be closed. The Libertarian Party urges the government to cease bringing in ever changing rules and regulations.
In Wales, it’s now possible to stay in the pub for no more than two hours. What do people do? Why, they move to another pub, of course and then the government can blame them for going on a “pub-crawl”. Drinkers then get accused of causing a rise in infection rates. This twisting of facts, like governments do, ignores the fact that it was a government rule that forced them to change pubs in the first place. Yet more ill-thought through legislation!
There will be long term effects from this too, even if the misery ends in spring. How many entrepreneurs will invest into the sector, knowing that the government now has a precedent to close their businesses on a whim? This punishment of the pubs has to end.
Martin Day – Party Secretary & Former Publican