Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Bolted shut

I was working on a general post about how the pub trade was still nowhere near out of the woods, when the unexpected announcement came that the government had ordered the closure of all pubs and other hospitality venues in Bolton due to a rise in local coronavirus cases. Some of the reporting of this was a touch disingenuous, just saying they would be limited to takeaways, which is rather like saying you can go to a theme park but just buy candyfloss.

Predictably, the headlines were all about pubs, and it seems that this is yet another example of the finger of blame being pointed in their direction, when it’s widely considered that transmission between households meeting in private homes is just as important a factor, if not more.

And it’s not just pubs, either, it’s the whole of the hospitality sector – hotels, restaurants, cafĂ©s and coffee shops too. It’s basically putting Bolton back into the dark days of the height of the lockdown. If it’s impossible to sit down and eat a meal outside your own house, or stay anywhere else overnight, it becomes a huge drag on economic activity in general. If applied nationwide, this would cause huge economic destruction.

An increase in reported cases is an inevitable result of more testing. But there’s little sign of it translating into an increase in hospitalisations, let alone deaths. It’s reported that there is a substantial number of false positives, and many positive results come from traces of the infection still being detected in people who recovered from it months ago. It comes across as a panicky over-reaction from blustering tin-pot dictator Matt Hancock. It is quite disproportionate to the actual level of risk.

No time limit has been set for the restrictions, or criteria stated as to when they might be lifted. And the question has to be asked whether affected businesses will be entitled to the resumption of furlough and business interruption payments.

If operators across the country fear they may be subject to arbitrary local lockdowns at the drop of a hat, it will seriously erode confidence in the hospitality trade on both sides of the bar. And any exhortations from the government for people to return to work will just come across as weasel words.

19 comments:

  1. Young fit healthy people brush the rona off as no more than a bad cold. More cases takes us to herd immunity quicker. Hospitalisations are the concern as that indicates older fatter people catching it that ought to still be staying in until immunity or a vaccine is reached. Curfew for the over 50s!

    In Sweden it is safe for people to be out and about as there is little or no transmission among an immune society. It'll never be over if a rise in cases among fit healthy people is used as the measure.

    As for pubs, sell up, get planning permission for flats, you won't turn a quid flogging takeaway ale that goes off tomorrow for 5 times the price of the tesco.

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    1. I'm 57 and fitter and healthier than some teenagers I know, so don't be suggesting curfews like that!

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  2. "It will become illegal for people to socialise with those outside their own household in any setting, even outdoors."

    What absolute nonsense, and how will plod police that anyway? A typical knee-jerk, over-reaction from a totally inadequate minister, who wants to be seen as "doing something."

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    1. How can they stop you talking to the people on the next table in the pub?

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  3. "there’s little sign of it translating into an increase in hospitalisations, let alone deaths"

    The seven-day average number of coronavirus hospitalisations (excluding Wales, which counts cases differently) has risen from 47 to 73 since the last week in August. The seven-day average number of deaths has risen from 7 on the 1st of September to 12 yesterday. The signs are right there, and they're alarming.

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    1. It is always worth keeping an eye on these stats. Are these new deaths or are the still pinging them back from a few months ago?

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    2. I'm off on holiday next week. When people of the UK ask where I'm from I always say Bolton (as that's where I was born).

      Now I feel I will have to admit I live under Wigan Council's gaze, though maybe I could be the one gazing if I apply to be a Covid Marshall, I can carry off both black or brown rather well.

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  4. "Well done, Matt 'we’re doomed!' Hancock – Covid fear is now a bigger threat than the virus itself."

    Telegraph article https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/politics/britains-grip-coronafear-and-dangerous-virus/?li_source=LI&li_medium=liftigniter-rhr

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  5. Is it a maximum of 6 people per table or max of 6 people in a pub? There is no absolute clarity.

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    1. 6 people per group. It's simple enough and little will be changing for most pubs and venues other than the legal requirement to take a name and contact number from each group and retain the information for 21 days.

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    2. Think what's changed is a requirement for everyone in that group to all give their details, not just one person, and a postcode is also required as well for test and trace.

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    3. No. Just one. The difference is the legal requirement.

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  6. It appears today that hotels in Bolton *will* be allowed to stay open, which certainly wasn't made clear yesterday. But I can't imagine people rushing to book their holidays there. And will they be allowed to serve meals to their residents?

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    1. And will I have to quarantine for 14 days after having a oint in Bolton?

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    2. Pendle last week, Bolton this week, it's nonsense. Why does anybody take it seriously?

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    3. You can’t even have a pint in Bolton now!

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  7. i have just had a four pint takeaway from Bank top tap ,quiet acceptable.But on Saturday i will walk 3 miles up to The Black Dog in Belmont which is still open as it is classed as Blackburn.It is the young men of Bolton that have caused this problem after Spanish holidays and then just carrying on as normal

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  8. There are currently just two people hospitalised with Covid in Bolton, which makes this look just a tad disproportionate 🙄

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