‘Dodgy dossier’ used to justify shutting pubs across North is based on ‘cobbled together’ data from just 98 cases
MINISTERS have been accused of using data from just 98 pubs to justify the closure of tens of thousands of venues in northern England
One MP claimed the Government has “cobbled together” statistics to shutter pubs and restaurants, putting the jobs of thousands on the line.
Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Fears have been raised that pubs such as this one in Middlesbrough could be forced to close [/caption]
Boris Johnson is facing a growing backlash over his plan to close Northern pubs and restaurants despite a series of grim warnings from government advisers.
The looming restrictions come as Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty warned of more than 300 intensive care patients in just 21 days from now unless urgent action is taken to stop the spread.
A cross part group of 149 MPs representing the North and Midlands were briefed by Professor Whitty.
But they claimed they were shown “meaningless” and highly selective figures to “retrospectively” prove the need for closures, the Telegraph reports.
Data for pubs relied on just 98 cases in which two or more people who were infected had reported being in the same place.
The Cabinet Office document is now being referred to as a “dodgy dossier” by MPs.
It also made reference to a US Centres for Disease Control report on Covid transmissions in restaurants that was based on just 154 coronavirus patients.
The study said those testing positive for coronavirus were “approximately twice” as likely to have dined at a restaurant in the fortnight before symptoms emerged.
“It was very clear to everyone on the call that they had cobbled together this data as a retrospective attempt to justify closing pubs,” said one Tory MP
“Given what we know from the official NHS figures, why are they quoting data from a tiny survey carried out in America? It’s just meaningless.
“No-one could make any sense of how these figures were put together. If they are so convinced they are right, they should publish them so everyone can see them.”
The briefing – which was also given by health minister Edward Argar – claimed that 29.8 per cent of exposures to coronavirus occurred in pubs and restaurants.
Just 2.6 per cent of infections happening in people’s homes, said the briefing.
However, official NHS Test and Trace figures have shown that 75.3 per cent of transmissions happened in the home, with only 5.5 per cent happening in pubs, restaurants and churches.
The Department of Health admitted the figures don’t offer “any hard conclusions about where the virus is being transmitted”.
Most read in News
One Labour MP who represents a northern seat said there have been calls for hard evidence to justify the curfew and pub closures.
But said the MP: “This is the best they can come up with.
“It’s quite astonishing, and it’s clearly an attempt to soften us up for bad news that’s coming next week.”