Bars continue to pose a significant risk for the spread of Covid despite best efforts to make premises safe, according to new studies.
Most countries worldwide had asked all sort of catering operations, including bars, to close in 2020, but were gradually allowed to re-open in many countries, including Malta, under specific conditions. In Malta’s case, a distinction was made to ensure that only those bars which had the commercial licence of a snack bar, and are allowed to serve food, were given the go-ahead to re-open.
Experts have pointed out that despite efforts to adhere to precautionary measures, hospitality venues remain a risk for the spread of Covid with research carried out in Scotland indicating from crowding to customers singing, and staff failing to effectively intervene.
“These are difficult issues for bars and pubs to hear at this time, and undoubtedly the risks will apply differently in different premises,” said Prof Niamh Fitzgerald, the director of the University of Stirling’s Institute for Social Marketing and Health, who led the research. “But there are very real issues around the social nature of pubs and the alcohol factor that makes them different from other public spaces.”
Writing in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Fitzgerald and colleagues report how observations were made by pairs of researchers posing as customers in a diverse collection of 29 bars and pubs around Scotland in July and August. At each venue, the researchers spent up to two hours taking stock of the physical setup and behaviour of staff and customers.
His team found common problems, including customers having to pass close by each other in corridors and around the toilets, and less than half of premises offering table service only. There were also more serious problems in a large minority of premises. These included customers moving to join people at other tables, hugging those not in their party, taking selfies with members of staff, and prolonged singing, shouting or playing music.
via The Guardian