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Hospitality must be ‘high priority’ for reopening plans

UK hospitality businesses were not ‘significant areas’ of Covid-19 transmission last year and should be seen as ‘high priority’ for reopening plans, according to a new report.

The hospitality sector in the UK saw sales drop 54% last year

A new report by CGA, commissioned by trade group UK Hospitality, looked at the safe reopening of the hospitality sector. The report said the industry would not be responsible for significant transmission in spring 2021 and beyond.

The report said the hospitality industry was ‘well placed’ to uphold and enforce measures to stem the spread of Covid-19. As such, bars and pubs should be allowed to reopen at the same time as non-essential retailers, following priority sectors such as schools.

The UK hospitality market plummeted by 54% in sales last year, equivalent to £71.8 billion (US$99.5bn) in lost revenue compared with 2019.

In addition, it noted that reports linking the Eat Out to Help Out scheme in August to a rapid rise in coronavirus cases came from a single, discredited study by Warwick University.

UK Hospitality 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.”

Furthermore, Nicholls said the sector could lead the economic recovery of the country and can provide jobs to those who have lost work.

UK Hospitality and trade body Scottish Hospitality Group recently lambasted a new report that found ‘significant risks’ of Covid-19 transmission in a minority of bars, calling it a “farce”.

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