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Vallance and chief medical officer Chris Whitty were asked if there was something that could be done in the structure in scientific advice that could be a bit more forensic about those restrictions on the sector that have a very big impact on certain people.

The scientific advisers said they are trying very hard to get data but can’t give specific data on it, and nor can anyone else across the world.

He told the Commons health and science committee: “There’s no real hard evidence on curfew times. What you can see across Europe, and indeed in this country, is keeping people together longer are in an indoor environment, where there’s also alcohol, is likely to increase risk.

“Therefore, that was a policy decision around trying to reduce the potential of interactions. It’s not something you can model with any degree of accuracy and say a particular time will give you a particular result.”

Vallance pointed to the research around restrictions on the sector was based on measures being taken around the world.

Outbreak data

He added: “If you look at the data around hospitality, what you have is a series of environmental factors.

“The fact people can’t wear masks, you’re meeting with lots of people who you wouldn’t normally mix with, you’re in an indoor environment, in some cases ventilation may not be adequate and so on.

“The second area is you look at case control studies and they’re not very strong but they do suggest there is an increased risk in those settings, [it’s] much stronger when you look at occupational risk, you can clearly see there’s a risk to those who work in hospitality, again suggesting there’s a risk there in that particular sector.

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