10pm Closing – The Facts Behind The Smoke & Mirrors

Last night the government ‘leaked’ the news that hospitality venues in England will have to close at 10pm from Thursday 24thSeptember until further notice.

The fact that the government chose to release this news to the press at close to midnight on a Monday rather than actually have the common decency to address us personally, a decision let us not forget that impacts millions of people across the nation, is frankly disgusting. Before anyone kicks off, yes The Disgrace is going to ‘address the nation’ this afternoon, but that’s like tweeting ‘Got the wife’s bestie knocked up Lols’ before heading home to break the news, and you only expect that sort of behaviour from one nations leader.

The pure cowardness of the delivery of the announcement aside the impact of this decision and its ramifications have yet to be properly reported in the mainstream media. You can almost hear the ‘ahhh well they only lose an hour or so of trading time’ comments being bandied about, but that is missing the point on so many levels.

Many venues stay open much later than 11. Most venues make a large proportion of their money in the hours after 10. Right now EVERY single sale matters, taking one a day away would be enough to shut some venues down, taking hours away is just reckless. And of course, less hours open means less hours working, a sector whose staff have been repeatedly hit are once again being asked to ‘take one for the team’.

All of this is horrific. It is a way for the government to be seen to be doing something without having to provide any financial support. It is a way to grab headlines without actually taking any responsibility. It is, when looked at in detail, a con.

The government are the worst kind of pub quiz team. The sort that always sit in the same spot in the corner because they think you can’t see them looking at their phones under the table. No-one minds though as they use google to find an obscure website that agrees with their incorrect answer rather than finding the right one.

This time they have found people to back the 10pm shutdown idea. Side note – we won’t know the exact details until the announcement this afternoon government website updates later today but based on other areas of the country 10pm is the time your venue needs to be empty of all customers.

The biggest problem with this enforced early closing is the potential to make the issue worse. Every time a medical expert pops-up on our TV screens they talk about the ‘secondary’ or ‘related’ deaths when talking about Covid-19. This is the term used for deaths that are not directly from the disease but from issues around the disease, an issue that is getting more serious and effecting more people. The early close decision has similar issues.

The problems with everyone leaving all hospitality venues at the same time are varied, but let’s look at the three most concerning. Firstly, the simple fact that people will, knowing they have limited drinking time, try to back load. Across the nation at 9:25pm people will be ordering multiple shots and drinks knowing that the bell is about to be rung. This will inevitably lead to problems for staff, but also leaving these people to get hit with the true effect of these drinks on the way home, which nicely leads us to….

Everyone using public transport at the same exact time, drunk, every day. Come on now. That is just stupid. Public transport is not designed for social distancing and hasn’t even tried to adapt. Whilst hospitality has had to make sure seats are a certain distance apart, buses have kept on trucking. Whilst hospitality has had to put in hand sanitising stations throughout their venues, trains have kept on chugging.

Sure they have done the ‘wear masks or get fined’ thing but anyone who has been on a tube in London will tell you there are plenty of selfish Cummings out there who have the same regard for other people’s health as the government has for following the law, and none of them are getting fined. So, to put a metric tonne of people who have just had that third tequila shot kick in and are definitely now, finally, going to get it on with Keith from accounting, on these incubators of disease is a fucking tremendous idea.

Luckily from here it makes sense because, as we all know, if the pubs and bars shut at 10pm everyone will go home, get into bed, say a little prayer, paypal some money to charity and have a jolly good nights sleep. Here, is where this latest measure really gets fucking ridiculous.

Advice Is A Dish Best Served Cold

Up until now everything we have said can be countered with the ‘they are just following the advice of the experts’ line. It’s true, according to The Guardian ‘government health experts say leisure or community settings are responsible for the second highest level of infections’. Scary, but seeing as we’re here what is responsible for the highest level of infections?

Well, according to the same health experts, that would be ‘contact with other household members or visits to homes’. I know what you’re thinking, aren’t the government curbing the second highest problem and leading people to go into the highest level problem area i.e. all going back to Barbara’s for ‘one last Chardonnay’? Well yes, yes that is exactly what they’re doing. But also fucking with millions of people’s income, futures, mental health, families…..

Perhaps however this is still justified, official data has found a ‘trebling of outbreaks linked to food outlets or restaurants’. But that, once again doesn’t tell the whole story. The thing about figures and stats is without context they can easily give a false lead. Let’s look at one case in particular, it isn’t a small one being used for dramatic purposes, in fact it was at least partly responsible for a whole town shutting down.

Last week Bolton was ‘restricted’ when it became the town with the highest rates of Covid-19 in the country. One of the main reasons for this was tracked back to a man who went on a pub crawl after coming back from holiday and not self-isolating. Now that data could easily be put down as ‘linked to a food outlet or restaurant’ rather than being put down as ‘a fucking idiot’ or more accurately ‘complete government ineptitude with overseas self-isolation’.

For weeks now people have been returning from holiday or flying into the UK for work and many have come from areas that means they are required to self-isolate for 14 days. Yet no-one checks up, in fact as of the end of August only 3 people had been fined for breaking the quarantine rule.  But let’s not crack down on that (which may actually give a country with terrible unemployment more jobs), let’s attack hospitality.

Don’t even get us started on fucking grouse shooting. The UK has never impeached a Prime Minister but that decision alone is enough for there to be a first, for abuse of power.

Earlier we mentioned that ‘government health experts say leisure or community settings are responsible for the second highest level of infections’. Sounded pretty damning, thing is ‘leisure or community settings’ covers ‘eating out, attending events and celebrations, exercising, worship, arts, entertainment, recreation and community activities’.

Wow, not only is that a pretty broad group it seems only hospitality is being singled out. Churches can still open, gyms can still open (and not have to close at 10pm incidentally), community activities can still activise (okay that term is so vague even Google told me to fuck off), but hospitality? Nah hospitality has to suffer. Again.

So, in short we are being punished. We will leave it for others to debate whether or not the government mishandled Covid-19 (mainly because there is nothing to debate, they did) but it is important to be armed with the facts and hopefully now you have a few more. This is shit, but it isn’t a two week lockdown as many feared and hopefully the stats will even themselves out and we can start beginning to worry about Karen at Christmas.

As always it is VITAL that we stick together and keep an eye on each other. This latest news is going to be hard for some of us to deal with. We need to talk, we need listen. If you need it never be afraid to ask for help, there are many people out there who would love to help you out (there details can be found here).

We will bring you all the boring rules you’ll need to know, such as table service and the exact kicking out time as soon as it is announced but for now thanks for reading this far.