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Thanet pub boss claims hospitality industry is unfairly treated amid calls for better ventilation in premises

A pub boss has criticised doctors' calls for premises to improve ventilation to reduce the risk of Covid outbreaks.

Philip Thorley, director of Thorley Taverns in Thanet, says pubs and restaurants have already been hit hardest by Covid regulations, which until this week had kept them shut since November.

He says premises already have strong protocols in place due to being so heavily policed throughout the pandemic.

His comments follow advice from the British Medical Association (BMA) to the government stating more needs to be done to guard against airborne transmission of the virus.

This includes specific ventilation requirements in pubs, bars and restaurants, workplaces and other public settings, as they welcome the public indoors again on May 17.

But Mr Thorley, who runs 19 pubs in Thanet, says the hospitality industry has already been hit hardest by Covid measures.

"We've been the longest shut, we've had the most regulations put on us, we've been the most policed, however, they still want to be lapping it on top," he said.

"Pubs, restaurants and hospitality are professionally run venues and have very good heating and ventilation to make sure our customers are happy and safe.

Philip Thorley runs Thorley Taverns in Thanet
Philip Thorley runs Thorley Taverns in Thanet

"The protocols we've put in place that we're working with currently are very strong."

Mr Thorley has previously criticised the way pubs, bars and restaurants have been the "whipping boys" throughout the pandemic, and the most heavily regulated, despite few cases of the virus being found in hospitality.

"We've worked harder than any other industry to make everything safe and we've had nothing but plaudits on how well it's been done," he said.

"When you look at pubs there is track and trace, wearing masks while moving around and sanitising the tables every hour."

But the BMA says more needs to be done by the government in addition to the 'hands, face, space' message.

Pubs and restaurants will reopen inside from May 17, with still with social distancing in place
Pubs and restaurants will reopen inside from May 17, with still with social distancing in place

In a study published in the British Medical Journal, researchers said the "tiniest suspended particles can remain airborne for hours".

They added: “People are much more likely to become infected in a room with windows that can’t be opened or lacking any ventilation system.”

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of council at the BMA, said the article emphasised how crucial clean airflow is.

"There has been much discussion by the Government and in the media about ‘hands, face and space’ but much less about the critical importance of fresh air and throughflow in buildings and on public transport," he said.

"As restrictions are eased, and there is greater mixing between people in enclosed spaces, it is vital that measures are taken to ensure adequate ventilation.

"This should include explicit specifications on ventilation requirements in public and work settings, including in the hospitality sector such as restaurants, bars and pubs.

"Investment will also be needed to make sure our hospitals, clinics and GP surgeries are ventilated correctly and that our NHS workers and patients are kept as safe as possible.

"A failure to ensure adequate levels of ventilation in indoor areas runs the serious risk of a rebound increase in Covid-19 infections.

"Crucially, patients and the public need to know they are as safe as they can be and at low risk of becoming infected when they return to the office, go shopping or go into leisure settings."

Covid rates in Kent have in recent weeks plunged to low levels, with a rolling rate of 13.2 per 100,000 - just 209 cases countywide - lower than the national average of 28.2.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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