A pub boss has called on Matt Hancock to apologise after implying the hospitality industry were in part to blame for the latest surge in coronavirus cases.
Oakman Inns chief executive Peter Borg-Neal said pubs had “sweated blood” to get their venues Covid-compliant by July 4 and that suggestions they were breading grounds for the virus were “totally untrue”.
Appearing on BBC’s Question Time, Borg-Neal said once pubs re-opened on July 4 that there was “no significant change in the number of transmissions” for over two months.
“Then, at the beginning of September there’s a big change.
“How on earth can that be blamed on the hospitality industry? We’re very angry,” he continued.
Last Friday, Hancock appeared to blame the vast majority of transmission on people meeting in social settings, “whether that’s in hospitality or people’s own homes”.
Public Health England figures show that of 729 new cases confirmed in the same week, only 34 were officially linked to the industry.
Borg-Neal said the industry would “never put profits before public safety”.
He said: “We want a retraction and an apology and if we don’t get one this issue will not go away. People are really hurt and upset.”
The public had mix feelings about Borg-Neal’s comments.
David Whitaker said: “I have to say Peter is talking a lot of common sense-Proves The Government and their Scientists have not a clue about The economy and the impact of their measures.”
Another wrote: “This govt will blame anyone, literally anyone, to avoid accepting responsibility. Even if those people are their own voters/constituents.”
Owen Holmes said: “The problem isn’t the industry , it’s the customers, most will be responsible, but there’s always a few that put everyone in danger , and there is the problem!”
“Another business man denying its his businesses fault its the schools its office its the old folks home,” shared a third.
@Thebabyhas spoke added: “Obviously never been to a Weatherspoon’s then.”