A study carried out by the University of Stirling during May through August last year was published earlier this week. It has raised questions around how effective measures put in place by pubs were in reducing the transmission rate of Covid-19.
It was led by Professor Niamh Fitzgerald, director of the University of Stirling’s Institute for Social Marketing and Health.
The study itself “explored and observed business practices and behaviours of customers and staff in licensed premises in summer 2020” with a hope of “understanding if and how COVID-19 transmission risks could be managed in settings where alcohol is served,” commented Fitzgerald.
Business owners and representatives were interviewed before premises opened again in order to obtain a first hand account of the difficulties that were to be faced. These included the layout changes made to pubs and bars and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Businesses expressed an intention to work within the guidance, but there were commercial and practical challenges to making this a reality,” said Fitzgerald.
Common problems included: “Staff not wearing PPE, or with the management of toilets, queues and other ‘pinch points’.”
It was also noted that the upkeep of rules and regulations was especially difficult when customers were intoxicated. Other risks such as “combinations of singing, shouting or playing music, mixing between groups and a lack of social distancing” were noted in many premises’; with “no staff intervention” happening in the majority of establishments.
It was concluded that even with the tireless work put in by premise operators and government guidance, “potentially significant risks of COVID-19 transmission persisted in at least a substantial minority of observed bars”.
In the face of this, however, comments were also made on the hardships faced by many in the hospitality sector due to the persistent closures, and that “attention needs to be paid to employee hardship and ownership patterns in the sector”.
Feature image credit: BBC