SAM Corcoran, Cheshire East Council leader, has questioned the wisdom of only allowing the borough’s pubs to re-open if they serve food.

Under Tier 2 restrictions which come into force on Wednesday (December 2), Cheshire East’s pubs and bars will only be able to sell alcohol if they serve ‘substantial meals’ with customers’ drinks.

In his regular Twitter update this morning, the Labour leader said: “The government has released a paper on transmission risk in the hospitality industry. The paper says the largest clusters in Hong Kong were associated with transmission in bars and at a wedding dinner — both [are] locations [in] which face masks were not worn.

“Analysis using genomics indicated 12 cases linked to transmission in a poorly-ventilated [Vietnamese] bar, only four of whom had close contact with the index case — so I can see the reasoning behind closing nightclubs and indoor bars.

“The paper goes on to quote a report from the US which found that those infected without known close contact with a person with Covid-19 were 2.8 times more likely to report dining at a restaurant, or 3.9 times more likely to report going to a bar or coffee shop than controlled participants.

“So why do the restrictions allow pubs to stay open only if they are serving a substantial meal, when the evidence suggests eating out is a source of transmission?”

Cllr Corcoran also posted a link to the government paper in question.

Cheshire East currently has a 7-day infection rate of 138 cases per 100,000, below the UK average of 171.3.