Fewer than 5% of new transmissions linked to restaurants, PHE finds

4.7% of new incidents of acute respiratory infections (ARIs) were linked to food outlets and restaurants in the period between 7 August and 13 September, according to the latest surveillance report from Public Health England (PHE).

It comes despite health secretary Matt Hancock telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “the vast majority of transmissions happen in social settings, whether that’s in hospitality or in people’s homes.”

As a result, hospitality leaders have pointed to the latest PHE data in support of their rejection of Hancock’s statement amidst threats of further restrictions on the sector.

Of 729 ARIs reported overall, 34 were linked to hospitality settings. By contrast, 313 were linked to care homes, 193 to educational settings and 110 to workplaces.

Of the cases reported from food and restaurant venues, the highest number of incidents came from the North West (7), the West Midlands (6) and the South East (6).

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: “Despite the boost delivered by the Eat Out to Help Out scheme, consumer confidence is still low and it takes a further beating whenever lockdowns or restrictions are mentioned.”

Peter Borg-Neal, chairman of Oakman Inns, added: “Don’t pick on the people who are working really hard to get the economy moving again, working really hard to protect their customers and their employees.

“If they close all the pubs, what will happen? Students will be gathering in tiny flats and bedsits with a bottle of cider. It will be far, far worse. It makes no sense on public health grounds to close pubs.”

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