Sunday 1 November 2020

Singled out

Yesterday, Boris Johnson announced a new national lockdown lasting four weeks until the end of November. Not surprisingly, as before, hospitality bore the brunt of the restrictions, with pubs, restaurants, cafés and coffee shops unable to serve customers on the premises in any way. This is despite official government figures showing the hospitality sector as responsible for an utterly trivial source of infections outside the home – a mere 2% according to the chart below.

Given this, it is hard to see that this particular part of the restrictions will have any significant effect in curbing the number of cases. It seems that, yet again, hospitality is being unfairly scapegoated as it forms an easy target. Indeed, the whole package comes across as an ill-considered example of the “Something Must be Done!” school of policymaking.

To add insult to injury, looking at the small print of the regulations reveals that licensed premises are even going to be banned from selling alcoholic drinks for takeaway. For plenty of pubs this was a lifeline during the first lockdown and allowed drinkers to continue enjoying cask ale. To prohibit it now seems completely unreasonable given that supermarkets and specialist off-licences can continue selling alcohol. You have to wonder whether the anti-drink lobby have managed to sneak it in under the radar.

However, it has not gone unnoticed by industry groups such as UK Hospitality and SIBA, and hopefully pressure can be brought to bear to get this reversed before the lockdown comes into effect next Thursday. Johnson said that this lockdown wasn’t like the first one, but on this evidence it seems to be even stricter!


  1. I know its a difficult situation but it seems the rule makers are basically headless Chickens.

  2. It is clear from the experience of Merthyr Tydfil which has been in lock down measures for several weeks that lock downs do not work. I agree that the latest measures seem to have been adopted in a state of panic which has been brought about by predictions which are almost certainly inaccurate given that the current epidemic is close to its peak and will be in decline when the hospitals are,according to the predictions,scheduled to be overwhelmed in late December. It would be better to let the epidemic take its course

  3. "A full list of the business closures will be published and set out in law." Looks like the powers that be are still working on the regulations, so expect more muddle-headed thinking, contradictions and anomalies as things unfold.

    Definitely from the “Something Must be Done!” school of policy making, which is why the hospitality sector has, yet again, been targeted so unfairly.

    I would close the schools, if I was in charge, as any social-distancing they might have in the classroom, goes straight out the window the moment the little darlings are released from the school gates.

  4. The Stafford Mudgie1 November 2020 at 20:40

    About a month ago William Lees-Jones of Lees’s brewery explained that "Pubs are probably the safest place to be in the UK at this moment" which was probably based on official data showing that pubs and restaurants caused less than three per cent of coronavirus infections in the week before the 10pm curfew while schools and care homes were responsible for more than two thirds of all positive tests, and that’s from weekly figures from Public Health England’s weekly figures. Your figure now are very similar.
    Deaths were about ten a day during July and August after pubs reopened and have soared to about a hundred a day since schools reopened two months ago. Having a National Lockdown whilst keeping the schools open is like having a designated pissing area in a swimming pool.

  5. The figures about the safety of pubs are meaningless as stated. The proper metric is what proportion of people who go to pubs get the virus.
    Based on simple numbers of infections backgammon clubs are far safer than pubs.

    1. They're not meaningless at all, just measuring a different thing. From the point of view of the national infection trend, absolute risk is far more important than relative risk.

      And, if hospitality generates few infections because hardly anyone is visiting it, then by definition shutting it down will have little impact on the national totals.

      Anyway, the comment policy states that the comment facility is not provided to give you or anyone else a platform to engage in a protracted argument with me. You have said your piece, so please move on or don't bother.

  6. As with the last lockdown, we are told that one of the reasons for it is so that the NHS doesn't become overwhelmed and have to turn people with other illnesses away. Yet they have been turning people with other illnesses away since March already, despite hospitals and health centres being largely empty. And the Nightingale centres unused.

  7. @dcbwhaley - I have, as you no doubt expected, rejected your latest missive. But if you're going to quote my own comment policy back at me, I would remind you of "Any issues relating to the application of the moderation policy should be raised privately with me rather than in the comments themselves."

  8. Professor Pie-Tin5 November 2020 at 12:57

    Ireland is nearly two weeks into its current lockdown and funnily enough it doesn't feel half as bad as the first one.
    Possibly because there was only just over a month between wet pubs opening and then closing again with a fair bit of time limited to just 15 people sitting outside.
    Whether it's the lack of fear that accompanied the intial stages of the lockdown in March or simply the fact that most people are resigned to another long spell without their locals.
    Or maybe we've all just got used to drinking at home now and don't miss the pub as much as we thought.
    One of the regulars keeled over of a heart attack this week and his funeral two days later was a muted affair - the cortege drove past the pub and the local rugby club making a stop outside both and that was it.
    By Christ there would have been some piss-up in normal times.
    He was two years younger than me.
    We've all taken one step forward to our ultimate destiny.
    In better news, another batch of my go-to lockdown tipple - Tricky Cider from Taunton in Somerset - is on its way.
    But it won't be quite the same not being able to drink it sat outside in the sun.

    1. In the early days of our first lockdown, the country was eerily quiet, as people seemed paralysed by fear, and many businesses that could have opened chose not to, in particular takeaways.

      I've not really been out so far, apart from (ironically) to get some fish and chips last night, but this time I'd expect things to be much busier. Every business that can open, will, and people won't have any compunctions about using any of them.

    2. Traffic on Tyneside today is remarkably normal for a Friday. The coast is very busy with people walking and cycling and those shops that can open are busy. People aren’t reacting the same way as they did for the first lockdown, probably because they’re not in general convinced of the purportedly necessity.


Comments, especially on older posts, may require prior approval by the blog owner. See here for details of my comment policy.

Please register an account to comment. Unregistered comments will generally be rejected unless I recognise the author. If you want to comment using an unregistered ID, you will need to tell me something about yourself.