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Ministers used numbers based on fewer than 100 pubs to justify the plan to close thousands


Ministers were charged with using weak data after relying on numbers based on fewer than 100 pubs to justify the possible closings of tens of thousands of venues in the north of England.

It came as No10 faced a concerted backlash from local leaders and MPs over plans to put even stricter restrictions on millions of people in the north from next week.

A Tory MP said the data was "cobbled together" to justify the pub closings. It used a three-month-old survey in the US and cherry-picked numbers.

Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of causing "confusion, chaos and injustice" by revealing the exact measures that will be announced next week while still being discussed.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty yesterday informed 149 MPs from the North and Midlands that a "significant proportion" of exposure to coronavirus is in the hospitality industry.

He showed them a table showing that 32 percent of the broadcast could be in pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, with just 2.6 percent at home.

However, MPs complained that the information was "selective" and clearly served government purposes.

They pointed out that the NHS test and trace numbers show that 75.3 percent of broadcasts are at home, with just 5.5 percent in pubs, restaurants and churches.

Chris Whitty's claim that a "significant proportion" of coronavirus exposure occurred in the hospitality industry has come under fire. One Conservative MP describes the government's data as "incredibly thin".

Revelers in Edinburgh were enjoying their last night on the town when pubs and restaurants closed for two weeks from 6pm on Friday, with parts of England possibly following

Revelers in Edinburgh were enjoying their last night on the town when pubs and restaurants closed for two weeks from 6pm on Friday, with parts of England possibly following

In Glasgow, drinkers filled the city despite government fears that the hotel industry is fueling the surge in infections, which is controversial

In Glasgow, drinkers filled the city despite government fears the hospitality industry is fueling the surge in infections, which is controversial

Last night, it also found that Public Health England data was based on a very small sample size.

It was derived from contact tracing data covering only 98 pubs and 67 cafes and restaurants.

A PHE spokesman said every case reported related to two separate Covid-positive patients who had been in the same location for the past week.

However, the data cannot say whether they discovered the virus in the same location.

A health ministry spokesman said the "improved" contract tracking suggested the infection site is at a hotel.

The dossier submitted by Chris Whitty contained a Cabinet Office document marked "officially sensitive" referring to a July report from the US Centers for Disease Control.

In Newcastle, crowds gathered outside Bijoux, a popular bar, as parts of northern England prepared to have new rules enforced next week

In Newcastle, crowds gathered outside Bijoux, a popular bar, as parts of northern England prepared to have new rules enforced next week

Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of causing "confusion, chaos and injustice" by revealing the exact measures to be announced next week while still under discussion. Pictured: revelers in Newcastle

Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris Johnson of causing "confusion, chaos and injustice" by revealing the exact measures that will be announced next week while still being discussed. Pictured: revelers in Newcastle

In Liverpool, many students and young people gathered in close proximity to one another despite fears of increasing infections

In Liverpool, many students and young people gathered in close proximity to each other despite fears of increasing infections

Lots of people queued to enter bars in Edinburgh, despite Nicola Sturgeon imposing strict rules on Wednesday that will take effect from Friday

Lots of people queued to enter bars in Edinburgh, despite Nicola Sturgeon imposing strict rules on Wednesday that will take effect from Friday

The study found that of the 154 people who tested positive, about twice as often had eaten in a restaurant in the last two weeks before symptoms appeared.

A Tory MP from a Red Wall seat told The Telegraph, “It was clear to everyone that they cobbled together this data as an afterthought to justify pub closings.

“If we know what we know from the official NHS numbers, why are they citing data from a tiny poll that was done in America? It's just meaningless. & # 39;

Last night, the British Beer and Pub Association warned the government that the data was not good enough to warrant pub closings.

The British Beer and Pub Association warned the government the data was not good enough to warrant pub closings. Pictured: a night out in Newcastle on Thursday

The British Beer and Pub Association warned the government the data was not good enough to warrant pub closings. Pictured: a night out in Newcastle on Thursday

The government has suggested that 32 percent of the broadcast could take place in pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants. Pictured: Thursday evening in Edinburgh

The government has suggested that 32 percent of the broadcast could take place in pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants. Pictured: Thursday evening in Edinburgh

Chris Whitty suggested merely following other countries and imposing a 10 p.m. curfew, suggesting they themselves had no data to support the new measures

Chris Whitty suggested just following other countries and imposing a 10 p.m. curfew, suggesting they themselves had no data to support the new measures

Government data had claimed that 32 percent of the broadcast could be in pubs, bars, cafes, and restaurants, but it turns out that data came from a sample of fewer than 170 companies

Government data had claimed that 32 percent of the broadcast could be in pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants, but it turns out that data came from a sample of fewer than 170 companies

The document that spilled the beans

The controversial data cited by Professor Whitty is based on an exercise to improve contact tracing, according to the Department of Health.

It asks people who they met – and where they met them. However, it is based on a very small sample.

If two infected people tell the tracers that they have been to a venue in the past week, it will be taken as an indication, but not evidence, that the virus may have been transmitted between them.

But they didn't even have to be there at the same time.

The data shows there have been 98 cases where two or more people told contact tracers they had been to the same pub.

Another 67 cases related to people who were in the same café or restaurant.

An expert suggested that 7,000 venues in the north would have to close. However, Downing Street denied that any lockdown decisions had yet been made.

A Tory MP who attended the briefing said, “It is clear that the data to warrant further hospitality action is incredibly thin.

"It's so weak that they can't even publish it."

Professor Whitty also appeared to be pointing out that the national curfew, introduced last month for pubs, bars and restaurants at 10 p.m., was based on nothing more than the fact that other countries had imposed it.

Last night, politicians from the north lined up to condemn the prime minister for the "ruthless" plan to close all pubs and restaurants in the hardest hit areas.

Andy Burnham, the Labor Mayor of Greater Manchester, told BBC Radio 4's World At One: "I will no longer take it when they put things on the north of England that really harm people's lives."

And Emma McClarkin of the British Beer and Pub Association said, “We have yet to see the hard evidence in England that blanket pub bans with strict adherence to government guidelines will significantly stop the spread of the virus. & # 39;

But Ben Bradley, Tory MP from Mansfield, who answered the call, said, “We have been talking about the Northwest and the Northeast in particular, where in three weeks we have been talking about hospital stays higher than the original summit. & # 39;

Steve Rotheram, Liverpool City Region Mayor, told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "Quite simply, the north shouldn't be a petri dish for central government experiments."

Sir Keir Starmer also wrote in The Telegraph that the delay in announcing the new three-tier system means people are facing a "weekend of uncertainty".

Community Secretary Robert Jenrick almost confirmed yesterday that action was on the way.

"It is correct to say that the number of cases is rising rapidly in the northwest and northeast, as well as in a number of cities, particularly the Midlands like Nottingham, and this is a serious situation," he said.

"We are currently considering what steps to take, apparently under the advice of our scientific and medical advisors, and a decision will be made shortly."

He added that it was "generally understandable" that the longer people were together in pubs, the higher the risk of infection, as he supported the 10pm curfew.

Last night, politicians from the north lined up to condemn the prime minister for the "ruthless" plan to close all pubs and restaurants in the hardest hit areas. Pictured: Students on Thursday in Liverpool

Last night, politicians from the north lined up to condemn the prime minister for the "ruthless" plan to close all pubs and restaurants in the hardest hit areas. Pictured: Students on Thursday in Liverpool

A man blows smoke while vaping in Manchester city center while Downing Street said new data suggests there is "significant" transmission in the hospitality industry

A man blows smoke while vaping in Manchester city center while Downing Street said new data suggests there is "significant" transmission in the hospitality industry

Hospitality bosses said government data is insufficient to support planned pub closings in parts of the north - amid fears that up to 7,000 venues may close

Hospitality chiefs said government data is inadequate to support planned pub closings in parts of the north – amid fears that up to 7,000 venues may close

Altus Group, a real estate consultant, estimated 7,200 pubs in the north could close – one in five English pubs.

Last night, a government spokesman admitted that the "early analysis" was not evidence of the transfer.

"We are seeing coronavirus cases increase across the country, with particularly rapid growth in the northeast and northwest," he said.

"We are constantly monitoring the data and are considering a number of options to suppress the virus, protect communities and save lives."

Leaked government slides claim 41% of people under 30 with Covid in England went to a pub, bar or restaurant in the week before testing positive

At least 41 percent of under 30s with coronavirus in England were visiting a pub, bar or restaurant the week before they claimed positive leaked government slides.

And a quarter of Covid-19 infections in all age groups have been linked to restaurants.

The shocking numbers stand in stark contrast to official data from Public Health England, which says only four percent of Covid-19 outbreaks can be traced back to grocery stores and bars.

However, they are consistent with data from Scotland that showed that one in five people – 20 to 25 percent – who tested positive for Covid-19 in September had been to a pub or restaurant shortly before being diagnosed. However, the numbers do not prove that they contracted the virus at the venue.

Separate PHE data released today showed that infected people were most likely to come into contact with the family they live with, followed by friends visiting them and people during their free time – including pubs and restaurants.

Presented at a press conference by Public Health England, the films marked as "officially – sensitive" warned the north of England that as many Covid-19 patients could be in intensive care as in April, three weeks at the height of the pandemic.

It warned that further tightening of lockdown restrictions would be needed to contain the current surge in infections. The meeting was chaired by Chris Whitty, the UK's chief medical officer, and Ed Argar, a health minister, The Guardian reported.

The move is believed to signal the impending tightening of restrictions in northern England and Nottinghamshire, although few details have been offered on it. However, it is believed that pubs, bars and restaurants could be closed to slow the wave of infections.

The slide above shows that, according to Public Health England, 41 percent of coronavirus infections in the UK have been linked to pubs, bars or restaurants

The slide above shows that, according to Public Health England, 41 percent of coronavirus infections in the UK have been linked to pubs, bars or restaurants

These graphics were also shown at the briefing. Suggested infections in all age groups are higher in the north of England than in the rest of the country

These graphics were also shown at the briefing. Suggested infections in all age groups are higher in the north of England than in the rest of the country

The graphics also warned that within three weeks there could be more people in intensive care in the north than at the start of the pandemic

The graphs also warned that within three weeks there could be more people in intensive care in the north than at the start of the pandemic

PHE data released today showed that infected people were most likely to come into contact with the family they live with, followed by friends who visited and people during their leisure time - including pubs and restaurants

PHE data released today showed that infected people were most likely to come into contact with the family they live with, followed by friends who visited and people during their leisure time – including pubs and restaurants

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is putting together a new rescue package for vacation spots for coronavirus hotspots

Ministers today desperately seek ways to prevent business collapse as Boris Johnson prepares to impose tougher lockdowns in part of the country.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is putting together a package that is supposed to be similar to the vacation program, which is about to expire, but which is aimed at areas suffering from the restrictions of a new traffic light system.

The mechanism for classifying the toughest "red" or "tier three" zones is still unclear, but it is expected to cover around 10 million people, including residents of Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle – three cities in which despite other continued infections have restrictions.

Hospitality businesses are to be closed as part of the new measures, which are expected to be confirmed on Monday and imposed from Wednesday. However, shops, offices and schools will remain open.

Ministers are still pondering the fate of hairdressers and leisure facilities

The new wage support for workers in the areas hit by local lockdowns is expected to be more generous than the rest of the country.

But it will raise further concerns about the pressure on public finances as borrowing will be over £ 300 billion this year.

The leaked slides also related to a study by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention that found that those who tested positive for coronavirus were twice as likely to eat at a restaurant 14 days before infection reports The Guardian.

Pubs, bars and restaurants are next in the line of fire for local lockdown restrictions in the north of England and Scotland.

Previous Public Health England reports published online have shown that most outbreaks occur among members of the public in schools, universities and the workplace.

There have been 148 incidents since PHE began recording outbreaks in pubs and restaurants on Aug. 9, compared with more than 500 each in educational or employment situations.

The hospitality sector was responsible for just 4.4 percent of confirmed Covid-19 outbreaks in the last full week of data ending September 27.

One MP who attended the meeting said, “The really scary thing for the Northwest and the Northeast is that after three weeks – actually 22 days – there are supposed to be more people in the ICU than in the first wave.

"Although the numbers are determined by the under-30s, Whitty and Co are clearly very concerned."

Nicola Sturgeon announced yesterday that the hospitality industry will no longer be allowed to serve alcohol indoors as of Friday. Parts of northern England are expected to follow suit on Monday as the government scrambles to get the virus under control.

According to experts, hotel companies are about to close because without schools closing – which the government has promised not to do again – there are not many options, as socializing in private homes is already all but banned.

But the British Beer and Pub Association struck back this morning, saying they had "yet to see hard evidence" that the store closings would curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Emma McClarkin, the association's executive director, warned that if pubs close, people will "gather to drink at home or outside where there are no social distancing measures in place of the NHS track and trace system".

She also called on the government to come up with a bailout package for businesses should they be forced to shut down.

Covid-19 spreads much faster indoors than outdoors because viruses linger in the air instead of being blown away by the wind.

For this reason, the blocking rules for restaurants, offices and shops on Hauptstraße were stricter than for parks, sports fields or garden centers.

People are usually closer together and touch more of the same surfaces indoors. This means that the virus has a shorter distance between people and more ways to do it. Outside, it would largely depend on people getting very close and breathing in each other, which doesn't happen as often as inside.

Scotland's data suggests that visits to public places, which include pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels, are the second largest common contributor to coronavirus infections.

In numbers that tracked where people had been before they became ill, hospitality was second only to family interactions.

ENGLAND: PHE data shows hospitality businesses such as pubs and restaurants accounted for a small proportion of officially reported coronavirus outbreaks in August and September. Many other outbreaks - reports to Public Health England that two or more people got sick and at least one of them tested positive for Covid - have been linked to educational institutions and workplaces

ENGLAND: PHE data shows hospitality establishments such as pubs and restaurants represented only a small percentage of officially reported coronavirus outbreaks in August and September. Many other outbreaks – reports of two or more sick people to Public Health England with at least one testing positive for Covid – have been linked to educational institutions and workplaces

SCOTLAND: Family interactions are inevitable in many cases - they are a separate category for family reunions - suggesting that hospitality may be a major driver of the spread as so many people who test positive visit these places.

SCOTLAND: Family interactions are inevitable in many cases – they are a separate category for family reunions – suggesting that hospitality may be a major driver of the spread as so many people who test positive visit these places.

In many cases, family interactions are inevitable – they're a separate category for family gatherings – suggesting that hospitality might be a major reason for its spread, given that so many people who test positive visit these places.

More than one in five confirmed cases reported eating or drinking before taking Covid-19, and this appeared to increase in September.

This does not mean that they necessarily caught the virus there, but the fact that so many positive cases visit these places suggests that the risk is higher there.

However, the data in England shows a different trend and has the hospitality industry as a much smaller driver of the transfer.

Closest to the Scottish figures, Public Health England's data is a set that records the number of Covid-19 outbreaks. The exposure is not tracked in the same way.

These are cases where two or more people develop a cough disease and at least one of them is diagnosed with coronavirus. The outbreaks are reported to PHE from nursing homes, hospitals, workplaces, schools, prisons and restaurants.

Outside of nursing homes, which are known to be breeding grounds for Covid-19 but which do not affect the general public, schools and workplaces are by far the hardest hit.

PUBS A & # 39; PERFECT STORM & # 39; FOR COVID-19 SPREAD, SCIENTIST CLAIM

Scientists say that theoretically the environment in pubs and how people behave when they are there is the "perfect storm" for the spread of the coronavirus.

Standing or sitting close together, speaking loudly, facing each other, and staying indoors in poorly ventilated rooms are ideal conditions for the virus, which hops from person to person in droplets that come out of the mouth when people talk, laugh, cough, and sneeze.

And people who drink alcohol are likely to forget all about social distancing, another added, which means rule violations are more likely, although pubs are doing their best to stop it.

Dr. Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter, pointed out that even after a drink or two, people lose their vigilance and are likely to be less cautious.

He said, “What are you doing in the pub? You drink and have a conversation.

“But having multiple conversations in a confined space means gradually raising your voice to be heard.

“So more droplets mean more chances of picking up a droplet that will eventually infect the other person. It's a perfect storm backed by alcohol. & # 39;

Dr. Julian Tang, ein Experte für Lungenerkrankungen an der Universität von Leicester, sagte: „Wenn der Luftraum schlecht belüftet ist, wird die mit Viren gefüllte Luft nirgendwo hingehen.

„Es wird dort verweilen, bis das Virus austrocknet und mit der Zeit stirbt. "Er sagte gegenüber der Press Association und fügte hinzu, dass die häufigste Übertragungsmethode in Großbritannien wahrscheinlich die" Konversationsbelastung "sei.

Dr. Simon Clarke, Mikrobiologe an der University of Reading, fügte hinzu: „Der Gedanke hinter der Ausgangssperre um 22 Uhr ist, wer möchte zwei Meter messen, wenn Sie mit Ihren Freunden in die Kneipe gehen? Du vergisst [über soziale Distanzierung], wenn du redest und Kontakte knüpfst. & # 39;

Seit dem 9. August, als Restaurants und Pubs in die Daten aufgenommen wurden, wurden insgesamt 148 Coronavirus-Ausbrüche gemeldet.

Im Vergleich dazu wurden 581 Ausbrüche aus Bildungseinrichtungen wie Schulen und Universitäten und 507 aus Arbeitsplätzen gemeldet.

Die Statistiken von PHE deuten darauf hin, dass das Risiko, in einer Schule oder einem Büro an Coronavirus zu erkranken, erheblich höher ist als beim Abendessen oder einem Bier.

Dies kann jedoch verzerrt sein, da nach dem Bericht von PHE mehrere Personen, die nach dem Besuch eines Restaurants erkrankt sind, dies dem Restaurant mitteilen und den Vorfall dann PHE melden müssen.

Daher wird die Anzahl der Infektionen, die in Gastgewerbebetrieben übertragen werden oder mit diesen in Verbindung stehen, mit ziemlicher Sicherheit unterschätzt. Und Ausbrüche werden nicht in ihre Größe unterteilt, sodass einige Hunderte von Menschen betreffen können, andere jedoch nur eine Handvoll Fälle.

Schottlands Daten, die darauf beruhen, positive Fälle über das, was sie in den letzten Tagen getan haben, in Frage zu stellen, sind ein verlässlicherer Indikator, aber dasselbe ist für England nicht öffentlich verfügbar.

Es gibt daher keinen Beweis dafür, dass der Gastgewerbesektor überhaupt für die zweite Fallwelle in Großbritannien verantwortlich ist.

Dr. David Alexander, Experte für Risikominderung am University College London, sagte: „Es scheint keinen wissenschaftlichen Konsens darüber zu geben, ob Pubs und Restaurants potenzielle Ausbreiter von Coronaviren sind. Die schwedischen Behörden würden wahrscheinlich nein sagen.

'Ein Artikel legt nahe, dass man 19-mal häufiger mit Covid-19 infiziert ist als im Freien, aber natürlich gibt es zahlreiche verschiedene Inneneinstellungen …

„Ich denke, es wäre besser, solche Veranstaltungsorte mit Regeln betreiben zu lassen und sie regelmäßig auf Einhaltung zu überprüfen. Eher schwieriger ist es, die Menschen generell dazu zu bewegen, die Regeln zu befolgen. & # 39;

Dr. Ilan Kelman, der mit Dr. Alexander an der UCL zusammenarbeitet, sagte, dass die persönlichen Handlungen der Menschen wichtiger sind als das, was Unternehmen tun oder nicht tun, und dass die Öffentlichkeit Verantwortung für ihre eigenen Handlungen übernehmen muss.

"So viel über das Risiko der Übertragung von Coronaviren innerhalb von Veranstaltungsorten hängt von unserem individuellen Verhalten ab", sagte er gegenüber MailOnline.

„Beim Essen und Trinken ist es offensichtlich nicht möglich, eine Gesichtsbedeckung zu tragen. Daher besteht in Gaststätten ein hohes Übertragungsrisiko.

"Indem Sie Abstand zu anderen halten, Lebensmittel oder Ihr Gesicht nicht mit den Händen berühren und gut belüftet sind oder sich im Freien befinden, kann das Risiko verringert werden."

Er fügte hinzu: „Wir können alle dazu beitragen, indem wir uns angemessen verhalten, das Risiko aller senken und gleichzeitig die Pubs und Restaurants unterstützen, die es dringend brauchen. Wenn dies nicht der Fall ist, ist es unser Verhalten, das die Schließung von Gaststätten zwingt und möglicherweise das Geschäft aufgibt. & # 39;

Die Sperrung des Gastgewerbes erfolgt, als die schottische Regierung gestern eine Prognose veröffentlichte, dass das Land bis Dezember 35.000 Fälle pro Tag erreichen könnte, wenn jetzt keine Maßnahmen ergriffen werden.

Die stark ansteigende Grafik spiegelte die weit verbreitete Warnung von Sir Patrick Vallance und Professor Chris Whitty vom vergangenen Monat wider, dass Großbritannien bis Mitte Oktober 50.000 Fälle pro Tag erreichen könnte.

Professor David Paton, ein Wirtschaftswissenschaftler an der Universität von Nottingham, sagte auf Twitter: "Die berüchtigte Whitty-Vallance" ist keine Vorhersage. "Die britische Zahl von 45.000 pro Tag entspricht ungefähr 1.000 pro 100.000 über 14 Tage. Der schottische CMO [Chief Medical Officer] schlägt eine 9-fache Rate bis Mitte November ohne die neuen Beschränkungen vor.

"Das ECDC [Europäisches Zentrum für die Prävention und die Kontrolle von Krankheiten] gibt an, dass die maximale Infektionsrate von 14 Tagen / 100.000 für * jedes * Land während der gesamten Pandemie etwas über 1.000 beträgt."

The Scottish Government yesterday published a prediction that the country could hit 35,000 cases per day if no action is taken now

The Scottish Government yesterday published a prediction that the country could hit 35,000 cases per day if no action is taken now

Pubs, restaurants and may also be next in line to face lockdown rules because closing them is a relatively low-impact option for the public, even if it is devastating for the industry.

Boris's Red Wall revolt: Northerners rage at 'dictator' PM for using them as a 'petri dish for experimentation' as it emerges 10 MILLION people in COVID hotspots

Boris Johnson faced fury from Northerners and a massing Tory revolt today after it emerged he will plunge 10million people in Covid hotspots into even tougher lockdown restrictions next week, shutting pubs and restaurants.

The PM has signed off a new 'traffic light' system of curbs for England after days of bitter wrangling between ministers and scientists, with a swathe of the country where infections have been surging facing the harshest Tier Three level.

The mechanism for classifying 'red' zones are still unclear, but they are expected to cover Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle – three cities that have continued to see infection rises despite local lockdowns.

Hospitality businesses are set to be shut under the new measures, likely to be confirmed Monday and imposed from Wednesday, but shops, offices and schools will stay open.

Ministers are still mulling the fate of hairdressers and leisure facilities – but Chancellor Rishi Sunak will bring forward a special furlough-style compensation scheme for workers and firms hammered by the curbs.

Conservative MPs and local leaders in the North have been venting fury about the government's stance, with former minister Jake Berry accusing the premier of being 'London-centric' and enjoying his sweeping emergency powers 'a little bit too much'.

Politicians in Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield raged at 'diktats announced without notice' and said ministers were treating the North like a 'petri dish for experimentation' while the South gets off lightly.

There was a glimmer of relief for Mr Johnson this afternoon as Keir Starmer backed off a confrontation over the blanket 10pm pubs curfew – which critics say is making matters worse – to get the plans through Parliament. The Labour leader said his MPs will not oppose the measure in a crunch vote next week, although he wants the policy reviewed.

The Westminster government is still fighting to avoid a blanket nationwide lockdown similar to that dramatically announced by Nicola Sturgeon yesterday.

However, the North will be subject to the same sort of restrictions as in Scotland, where for 16 days pubs and bars are being banned from serving alcohol indoors and must shut by 6pm. In large areas north of the border hospitality venues are being told to shut altogether from tomorrow.

School closures are now reserved as only a last resort as experts warned children suffer devastating setbacks to their education and social development despite having a vanishingly small risk of dying from Covid-19.

Dr Ilman added: 'Schools are essential, whereas hospitality is optional, but nor do we wish to devastate livelihoods, especially the small businesses who have worked a lifetime to build up their company and so many of them invested to make their venues safe according to government guidelines.

'So it is a balance between keeping everyone safe, especially hospitality workers, while trying to maintain their businesses and jobs, to give them deserved return on investment.'

Edinburgh University epidemiologist, Professor Rowland Kao, said: 'Cases in Scotland have been rising across many communities and health boards, similar to what is occurring in many parts of England… something had to be done.

'We have long known that meeting in groups indoors has been a substantial risk for Covid-19 transmission as it is for other respiratory diseases.

'As meeting within homes were already restricted, there were very few options available to further curtail spread.'

But the announcement of pub closures has been met with fury from the industry, which is still reeling from the impact of the full lockdown in spring and said the new measures a 'scapegoating' business owners.

Kenny Blair, manager of Buzzworks Holdings, has 12 venues across central Scotland and is having to close all but one of them for 16 days from Friday due to the new restrictions.

Mr Blair, who employs around 500 people, estimates he will lose £1million in revenue over the two-week period.

He told the Press Association: 'We have the impact on staff who are fearful about what the future is for them, and it substantially weakens businesses like ours from a financial point of view.

'Many businesses in hospitality across Scotland are already substantially weakened and this may be the final straw for them.'

Mr Blair argued that businesses have followed government advice on how to make their premises safe but are now being punished anyway.

'We believe that because of the measures we've taken and the investment, the training, we provide a safe environment to socialise in and we've not seen any evidence that proves that's not the case.

'We think we're a vital part of the solution to provide safe socialising spaces and if safe socialising spaces don't exist, we feel that people will find a way to socialise.

'That may very well be in unregulated spaces such as indoors in houses where there are none of the measures that we have in our business in terms of masks, test and protect, spacing, cleaning, sanitising, that doesn't exist in all these other settings.'

Experts say that, although it is difficult to prove whether or not pubs and restaurants actually are contributing to the spread of Covid-19, they are in theory the ideal conditions for the virus to spread.

Standing or sitting close together, talking loudly while facing one another, and staying indoors in badly-ventilated spaces are all ideal conditions for the virus, which hops from person to person in droplets that come out of the mouth when people talk, laugh, cough and sneeze.

And people who drink alcohol are likely to forget all about social distancing, another added, meaning rule-breaking gets more likely despite pubs' best efforts to stop it.

Dr Bharat Pankhania, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter, pointed out that even after one or two drinks people will drop their guard and are likely to be less cautious.

He said: 'What do you do in the pub? Well you drink, and you have a conversation.

'But several conversations in a confined space equals incrementally raising your voice to be heard.

'So more droplets equals more chance of picking up one droplet that eventually infects the other person. It is a perfect storm aided and abetted by alcohol the enabler.'

Dr Julian Tang, a lung disease expert at the University of Leicester said: 'If the air space is poorly ventilated, that air that's full of virus is not going to go anywhere.

'It's going to linger there until the virus dries up and dies over time. & # 39; he told the Press Association, adding that the most common method of transmission in the UK is probably 'conversational exposure'.

Dr Simon Clarke, a microbiologist at the University of Reading, added: 'The thinking behind the 10pm curfew is that who wants to measure out two metres when you go to the pub with your friends? You forget [about social distancing] when you're talking and socialising.'

A government spokesperson said: 'We are seeing coronavirus cases rise across the country, with particularly fast growth in the North East and North West.

'We constantly monitor the data and are considering a range of options to suppress the virus, protect communities and save lives.

'As part of this we are undertaking analysis to support our understanding of where and how the virus is being transmitted in certain settings.'

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