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Minister defends hospitality shutdown based on data 'from 98 pubs'
9 October 2020, 08:28 | Updated: 9 October 2020, 09:15
A government minister has defended the coronavirus shutdown of the hospitality sector, arguing that data used from 98 pubs is "a pretty robust sampling".
Business minister Nadhim Zahawi told Nick Ferrari at breakfast that the sample size of fewer than 100 pubs was "quite representative" as he discussed the decision to enact extra measures against Covid-19.
He said: "I used to work in the serving industry and I can tell you when you do business surveys, 98 businesses, or 100 businesses, is actually quite a representative sample.
When pressed on whether this was still representative of the nearly 48,000 other pubs across the UK, he added: "If you're doing public opinions, 1,000 interviews is a representative sample [...]
"It's actually a pretty robust sampling."
Mr Zahawi's comments on Friday morning come as parts of England with high transmission rates of the virus are bracing for further restrictions to be announced next week.
Among the new measures is expected to be the closure of pubs and restaurants - as well as possible bans of overnight stays away from home.
"No decisions have been made," Mr Zahawi told Ferrari as he assured that any new rules affecting businesses would also be followed-up with government help.
He said: "If that decision is made, with the local leadership, then the chancellor will make a further announcement on that.
"That's the right way to do this.
"No business minister likes to close down the economy. I do this with a heavy heart [...]
"If we have to go further, we will make sure there's further help in place for those businesses.
"The hospitality sector is an incredibly important sector for this economy."
This anticipated decision on hospitality closures is also expected to be part of a widely-speculated tiered system for local lockdowns yet to be signed off by Boris Johnson.
Plans leaked earlier this week revealed the government has been working on a three-tier approach to the coronavirus response, which could help to simplify localised restrictions.
It would see three alert levels introduced on a traffic light-based system, labelled Red, Amber and Green.
At the top level is Red, which would mean no social contact with anyone outside your own household - and would be reminiscent of the national lockdown in March.
Meanwhile, at the green end of the scaling system, there would be much lighter measures, including the rule of six and a 10pm hospitality curfew.