People across the UK are continuing to go to pubs, bars and restaurants – despite the government urging the public to avoid them.
On Monday, Boris Johnson said people needed to stop all non-essential social contact in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
But pubs, bars and restaurants are still allowed to open – unlike in parts of Spain and Italy – and many people are choosing to use them.
Hospitality businesses have already seen an impact because of the coronavirus – and some have warned they cannot afford to shut.
The chief executive of the SEVEN BRO7THERS brewing company, Keith McAvoy, said the two bars they operate in Manchester had a similar number of people to usual on Monday but had seen a downturn on Tuesday.
The company still expects around half their normal numbers over the next two days though, and have implemented additional cleaning measures to keep customers safe.
He said: We have instructed all our staff to wipe down all contact surfaces every 30 minutes and they must wash their hands at the same frequency.
We have also asked people to keep a safe distance whilst in our bar and to maintain their own personal hygiene regime.
The company employs over 45 people and Mr McAvoy said that, even with the government’s promise of support, they were still having to consider taking further measures in order to survive.
One of Britain’s biggest pub and restaurant owners has warned that sales are getting worse by the day – and others have said they expect significantly lower sales in the coming weeks.
The Wetherspoon pub chain has announced that all 870 of its pubs are to remain open, but customers will pay by card, avoid standing at the bar and sit at alternate tables.
Many theatres and cinemas closed following the government’s advice and many sporting events have also been cancelled, but some public events are still going ahead.
On Tuesday, hundreds of people attended a St Patrick’s Day celebration in Liverpool’s Concert Square, leading to calls on social media for large gatherings to be banned.
Health experts say people who fail to rigorously follow advice to avoid pubs, restaurants and other social gatherings could make the outbreak worse.
We really need to reduce transmission rates to a level that the NHS can sustain, says Professor Graham Medley, director of the Centre for the Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Lots of transmission now will lead to more cases in a few weeks.
Many people have reduced their contacts, but if transmission is above the level that the NHS can cope with, then the only thing that government can do is to introduce further measures to slow spread.
We cannot get into a situation in which there is, essentially, no health service. If hospitals are full of people with COVID-19, what happens to people having heart attacks or falling off ladders?