Health

Rule of six and 10pm curfew on pubs likely to have ‘ZERO effect’ on reducing Covid spread, study claims

THE RULE of six and the 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants is likely to have “zero effect” on reducing the spread of the coronavirus, experts have warned.

In measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, the UK government enforced tough restrictions on the hospitality industry and social gatherings.

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Experts have claimed that restrictions such as the rule of six have been ineffective [/caption]

Pubs and restaurants have to close at 10pm, and in some places, doors closing early has meant hoards of people have been in the streets and trying to access public transport at the same time.

The rule of six was also implemented by the government in order to stop the spread.

If you are in a Tier 1 area you can meet in a group of six indoors or outdoors, but if you are in Tier 2 you can only do this outdoors.

A study from the experts at the London School for Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) found that these measures may not have any effect.

The researchers quizzed thousands of participants before and after the measures came into play in September.

More contacts than before

They found that most people were seeing the same amount of contacts they had been before the restrictions had come in.

This means that the rules did not have the outcome that experts had wanted – which was to drive down the amount of social contacts people were having.

Of those who participated – just one third said they had fewer contacts.

However – 26 per cent said they had seen more people than before.

Looking specifically at the 10pm curfew and people in areas such as Manchester – which had been under tougher restrictions since the end of summer – said they had seen less than one fewer person than before the restrictions were implemented.

The majority of people quizzed said they had been seeing the same amount of people as they had been before the restrictions (orange)
The graphs above show the difference in the number of contacts people were socialising with (left) and if there had been a change in the number (right)

Scientists warned that this would have little impact in slowing the spread as a full lockdown in March reduced the average number of contacts from 10.8 to 2.8.

This was after offices were closed and people were told to work from home.

The retail and hospitality industry was also closed during this time.

The research was co-authored by Professor John Edmunds, who last week warned that a second wave of the coronavirus would peak at Christmas.

The findings from the study state that neither the curfew or the rule of six has helped bring down the R rate.

On Friday it was reported that the R rate had dropped slightly across the UK, but that all regions remained above the crucial 1.

The UK currently has an R rate between 1.2 and 1.4.

There was no suggestion that 10pm closure of bars and restaurants has had an effect on reducing the mean number of contacts that participants make outside home, work, and school

Study authors

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Experts had previously said that there was “no scientific evidence” behind the rule of six and that it “should be binned“.

The study surveyed people about their social habits and whether or not they had changed since the toughest restrictions were imposed in March.

Across the UK 3,222 people were quizzed on who they had met in the last 24 hours during the two weeks before and after restrictions came into place. 

Around 43 per cent of people who were asked about how their contacts had changed since the rule of six was implemented said they had not seen a change in their day to day activity.

A third said they were seeing fewer people while a quarter said they were actually seeing more people.

Dr Christopher Jarvis and his team said that, of those who participated – the average number of contacts was two.

They claimed that this was the same both before and after the rules were implemented.

 

The researchers also revealed that over 50 per cent of people were seeing the same number of people they had been before the 10pm curfew was implemented.

It found that 24 per cent were seeing more and 25.6 per cent were seeing less.

Concluding their findings, the researchers said: “There was no suggestion that 10pm closure of bars and restaurants has had an effect on reducing the mean number of contacts that participants make outside home, work, and school.

“We determine that the “rule of six” and encouraging people to work from home has seen the average person reduce contacts but these reductions are likely small,’ the researchers concluded in the paper.

“In contrast to national restrictions, there was a strong suggestion local restrictions reduced the number of contacts individuals make outside of work and school, though again, this effect was small in comparison to the national lockdown.”

The paper is yet to be peer reviewed by other scientists and comes as doctors in Bradford slammed the Eat Out To Help Out scheme for causing a “tragedy” that’s sweeping hospitals in the area.

Eat Out To Help Out

Writing his diary for the BBC News website, Dr John Wright of Bradford Royal Infirmary described a growing local crisis, with locals adding that most people were taking the outbreak seriously until Eat Out to Help Out “changed all that”.

The chancellor Rishi Sunak had previously been criticised for the scheme which saw hungry Brits lining up to get discounts on their favourite eateries.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also warned that Tier 4 zones could be enforced if cases of the virus fail to come down.

Boris Johnson has also stressed that the top Tier 3 – which currently covers Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, Lancashire and Liverpool – is having an effect.

When asked about the possibility of a Tier 4 today the PM said: “We are working at the moment through the Tier 3 strategy.”

He added: “The key thing is that if you’re contacted by NHS Test and Trace and you are told you have been in contact with someone who has coronavirus, the most important thing to do is to self-isolate, to interrupt the chain of transmission.”

Pubs and other places which don’t serve food, along with casinos, indoor soft play and some other businesses are ordered to close in the top level of restrictions.

But if that doesn’t work, then more places may be ordered to close down.

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