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Hospitality does cause a rise in Covid cases

Is Hospitality really being unfairly treated?

Are we really the safest ship in the current storm?

With two-thirds of the country in Tier 3, Austen Bushrod presents an alternative angle highlighting that the success of Hospitality is contributing to its current challenges.

OK… I’ve said it.

I think that a lot of the growth of coronavirus cases is down to Hospitality.

It would be very easy to jump on the bandwagon right now. Hospitality is in pain. There is little comfort for an industry who came out for round one at the beginning of the year and has been down on the canvas in every round since then.

However, despite the impact that I and many colleagues are feeling, I can't silence that voice in my head that says we need this shutdown.

I’ve read hundreds of commentaries over the last few months bemoaning the fact that Hospitality environments are the ‘safe’ spaces we all need. However, I want the industry to stop for a minute and think about our reaction to what we often refer to as ‘unfair treatment’.

I know all the ‘statistics’ about less than 2% of covid cases being linked to Hospitality settings. I don’t buy it. I think like many stats that get rolled out, they try to prove a point to try to get a result.

Think about it differently. If we had tracking for the spread of the common cold – you and I both know that we have more than a 1 in 50 chance of getting it on a night out in a restaurant, pub or bar.

Here is another set of numbers. If you spend only 2 hours in a Hospitality environment, then that is almost 1.8% of your total waking hours that week. Looking at it that way, doesn't the 2% quoted figure seem even more unlikely?

During my career, I spent five years in the leisure industry working with Bingo Halls & Casinos. We spent a lot of time looking at the customer journey. We analysed behaviours before, during, and after, the visit to our premises. Guess what? The time the customer spent with us represented less than half of their total interactions over the course of the evening. You must not forget that a significant portion of your customers' visit is entirely out of your control.

What I so want us to understand is that we are part or the spread – but it’s not our fault. It is because we are good at what we do that we represent so much transmission risk.

Over thousands of years, we have been bringing people together, and we are fantastic at it. The thing is, if you put people in a Hospitality environment, it is very hard to keep them apart. You can put up all the screens and sanitiser you can get your hands on, but fundamentally people are coming to meet. Hospitality creates that. Humanity needs that. Remember though that you are only half of the interaction.

A group of young people going to Nando’s must be forgiven for forgetting the crappy year that is 2020. What’s Covid when you are pouring on the Peri-Peri? We also need to understand the cluster of mums and dads who get ‘a little too close’ whilst avoiding the humdrum of furlough, Zooming or home-schooling. You get my point?

Hospitality must accept that it’s because we are so good at what we do, and the very essence of who we are, that we create the environment for transmission. Bringing people together to enhance/celebrate/escape their lives (especially in winter) will always be a conduit for sniffles and coughs, and in 2020, Covid-19.

Stop to think the government may be right with the tier rules, even if we don’t like them. I certainly don’t think that they have it in for the Hospitality industry. Perhaps the powers that be are thinking more about human interaction and transmission (and the consequences) than the impact that the decisions are having on our industry, but isn’t that what they have to do?

For 2021, a year where we have the hope of a vaccine rollout, a gradual easing of fear, and the end of the Winter, Hospitality will be needed more than ever.

I firmly believe a change in direction is needed in our lobbying efforts. Repeatedly saying 'it's not us' can seriously undermine what we represent. Instead of rubbishing the government and their restrictions, we need to be reminding them why they and the country need us to survive. Get Westminster and local councils to think about the post-pandemic picture and the importance of sociable spaces. Remind them the position the hotel, restaurant, bar, nightclub etc. has played in their own lives and how important they are for the lives of generations to come. Encourage them to do their very best by us.

We can, and will, provide the environment for the country to come together and be reminded what life really is about.

Austen Bushrod is one of our HCC Purchasing Experts and has been in the Hospitality industry for almost 20 years. While you are here take time to check out and see how can help your business.

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