Treasury reaffirms defence of EOHO as data shows 'no link' to increased Covid cases

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Treasury reaffirms defence of Eat out to Help Out as data shows no link to increased Covid cases Rishi Sunak

Related tags Eat Out To Help Out Coronavirus Hospitality

The Treasury has reaffirmed its defence of the Eat Out to Help Out scheme (EOHO) after publishing data that showed there was 'no correlation' to rising Coronavirus cases.

Research, first reported by The Sun​, shows areas with the high take up of the scheme also had low virus levels between August and October.

Places including Westminster, Scarborough and North Devon saw huge uptake in use of EOHO, which offered eat-in customers at participating hospitality venues a 50% discount up to £10 per person on all food and non-alcoholic drinks between Mondays and Wednesdays throughout August last year, but very low subsequent Covid cases.

Meanwhile areas such as Knowsley, Rochdale and Merthyr Tydfil had far higher rates of infection, but lower levels of use of the scheme.

The Treasury said: “These figures confirm that take-up of Eat Out to Help Out does not correlate with incidence of Covid regionally – and indeed where it does the relationship is negative.”

EOHO has regularly been blamed as an instigator for the spike in Covid-19 cases that led to the second wave of the virus, with the Chancellor and Treasury facing criticism for the scheme as a result.

This despite Public Health England data consistently showing that the sector is not be a vector for transmission.

Earlier this week public health officials told MPs that hospitality 'certainly isn’t a huge risk' when it comes to the transmission​ of Coronavirus.

Instead, Greg Fell, director of Public Health in Sheffield, and Dr Richard Harling, his counterpart in Staffordshire, said the bulk of transmissions have always been in people’s homes.

Giving evidence before the Science and Technology Committee, Fell said: “Most of the transmission events are households, within households, or household to household transmission.

“Hospitality doesn’t crop up as a terribly big risk on our risk radar.

“Certainly when we look at the common exposure dataset, hospitality certainly isn’t a huge risk.

“There will have been transmission in hospitality, but it’s certainly nowhere near the top of my risk radar."

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