PM to announce 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants as Covid cases rise

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22:50pm, Mon 21 Sep 2020
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Pubs, bars and restaurants in England will be forced to close by 10pm from Thursday, Boris Johnson is set to announce.

The Prime Minister will address the nation on Tuesday evening to outline new measures to tackle the sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

As well as the curfew, the hospitality sector will be restricted by law to table service only.

Mr Johnson will chair meetings of Cabinet and the Cobra emergency committee – including the leaders of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – ahead of a live, televised address at 8pm.

The Prime Minister is expected to set out further ways the country can confront coronavirus in line with the scientific advice.

It comes after the UK’s four chief medical officers recommended raising the Covid alert level from three to four – the second highest – indicating the “epidemic is in general circulation; transmission is high or rising exponentially”.

And earlier on Monday, Sir Patrick Vallance – the chief scientific adviser – said the UK could see 50,000 Covid-19 cases a day by mid-October and a daily death toll of 200 or more a month later unless urgent action is taken.

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A Number 10 spokesperson said: “No-one underestimates the challenges the new measures will pose to many individuals and businesses.

“We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus and protect the NHS.”

This curfew will lead to the demise of many of our most beloved cultural and entertainment venues

Kate Nicholls, CEO of trade body UKHospitality, said the introduction of a 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants was “bad for business” and called for more support for the sector.

She said: “These restrictions will come as another crushing blow for many hospitality businesses struggling to recover so it’s crucial these new rules are applied with flexibility.

“A hard close time is bad for business and bad for controlling the virus – we need to allow time for people to disperse over a longer period. Table service has been widely adopted in some parts of the sector since reopening but it is not necessary across all businesses, such as coffee shops.

“We agree with the Government that we are all in this together. Hospitality has played its part by investing in Covid-secure venues and reassuring their customers. Now, it’s time for Government to demonstrate its commitment to the sector and its recovery – hundreds of thousands of livelihoods depend upon it.”

But Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night-Time Industries Association said the announcement was “yet another devastating blow” to the sector.

“This curfew will lead to the demise of many of our most beloved cultural and entertainment venues,” he said.

“Businesses in the night-time economy are both shocked and disappointed by the Government’s continued targeting of restrictions on late-night venues and bars, partially open at a fraction of their capacity, when they have admitted that the majority of transmission takes place in households.

“As a result of this measure, we foresee a surge of unregulated events and house parties which are the real hot beds of infection, attended by frustrated young people denied access to safe and legitimate night-time hospitality venues.”

And Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “A 10pm closing time for all pubs, bars and other hospitality seems to have emerged from a random policy generator.

“While mandatory table service has been part of the successful Swedish approach and may have merit, the new closing time will be devastating to a hospitality sector that was already suffering after the first lockdown.

“The Government should publish the evidence upon which this decision was based.”

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