Scientific proof that Covid is spread in pubs should be shared before a ban on the sale of alcohol comes into force on Friday, according to the boss of a leading Welsh brewery.
Welsh pubs, restaurants and cafés will be banned from serving alcohol from Friday, and forced to close customers beyond 6pm, in a bid to tackle a rise in coronavirus cases.
The move has been described as “devastating” to Wales’ hospitality industry, with warnings that it will force many to close.
And the head of award-winning Swansea-based Tomos Watkins Brewery, which supplies many pubs across the region, says she shares their frustration, and has called for proof that pubs, rather than supermarkets or cinemas.
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“It just doesn’t seem to make sense”, she said.
“How different is it from selling coke, to selling half a lager?
“Pubs and the hospitality industry seem to have borne the brunt of all the restrictions.
“They have done everything they can, with social distancing and personal protective equipment, for their customers and for their staff.
“I can’t think of another industry whose future has been so thrown under a bus.
“It’s not that I don’t understand the implications of the virus, and the implications on the NHS.
“I don’t want anyone to be irresponsible, but there is no proof it is spread more in pubs than in other places.
“Where is the scientific evidence that you are more at risk in a pub than you are at home or in a supermarket?
“At least the news of a vaccine means there is light at the end of the tunnel. 2020 has been written off for the licensing trade, and it will be fantastic if the vacine means we can get it all under control.
“But to have told pubs on a Monday they can’t sell alcohol on a Friday, when most will have already have placed their orders is very, very frustrating.”
The Welsh Government says its technical advisory group will be publishing further evidence on Friday, when the alcohol ban kicks in, with data on clusters and cases associated with various settings across Wales, including pubs.
And it added the new restrictions are being introduced after gains made during the recent two week long ‘fire break’ lock down are being lost due to another increase in cases.
A spokesman added: “We have looked at all the evidence about what interventions work.
“A recent paper by the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has analysed the interventions taken in the UK and concluded the measures in Scotland’s level three and England’s tier three are effective. Many of these are already in place in Wales.
“As cases of coronavirus accelerate in Wales and erode the gains made through the firebreak, we are strengthening the national measures in place in Wales, in line with the evidence of what works.
“We are adding a new set of targeted restrictions in the hospitality sector and in indoor entertainment and visitor attractions to the national measures to protect people’s health and save lives.
“Coronavirus thrives wherever people come into close contact with other people, especially for a prolonged period.
“We know that as the consumption of alcohol increases, social distancing and the perception of risk decreases. Wherever people mix, there’s a risk of coronavirus being passed on.
“If we are to be successful in keeping coronavirus under control, we need everyone to think about their own lives and reduce their contact with other people as much as possible.”