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Labour questions policy

Downing St rejects calls to review 10pm curfew

Jonathan Ashworth

Jonathan Ashworth: called for review

The 10pm curfew on pubs will remain in place, despite concern over drinkers piling on to busy streets at closing time.

Downing Street has resisted calls for change from opposition politicians and some scientists advising the government that it may be doing more harm than good.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock was urged in parliament to review the curfew on pubs and restaurants amid claims that it may not be halting the spread of the coronavirus – and may be making it worse.

Labour health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth said the hospitality sector already accounts for one-fifth of all Covid transmissions.

“We support the restrictions announced last week, but many are now questioning how effective they will be in containing the virus,” he said.

“We’ve seen this weekend pictures of people piling out of pubs at 10 o’clock on the dot into busy streets…public transport packed, supermarkets busy as people buy more drink. How does this help contain the spread of the virus?

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“Can I ask the Secretary of State to undertake a rapid and transparent review of all the evidence on the 10 o’clock rule and report back to parliament this week.”

Professor Susan Michie, a member of the Government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said it was always “predictable” that ejecting people on to the streets at the same time would lead to crowds forming.

Manchester mayor Andy Burnham later called for supermarkets to be prevented from selling alcohol after 9pm. “I think there’s a question mark over the curfew overall,” he said.

Some in the hospitality industry want the curfew lifted to even out the flow of customers but also because post-10pm custom is when they make up to 25% of their revenue.

A 10pm curfew is being applied widely across Europe.

Mr Ashworth also asked Mr Hancock to publish a strategy on what further containment steps could be introduced to avoid a second national lockdown to keep children in school and allow families to see each other.

His comments came as new figures showed 4,044 more cases, meaning the daily average number of infections across the UK has dropped for the first time in a fortnight.

However, figures on Monday usually under-estimate the actual figure.

Government data shows 5,770 people are now testing positive for Covid-19 each day, down from 5,816 yesterday — a figure that had risen every day since falling slightly to 2,998 on 14 September.

The rolling-seven day average number of new cases last Monday stood at 3,929.

Infections have risen consistently since 4 July, when hundreds of thousands of Britons flocked to pubs, bars and restaurants to celebrate ‘Super Saturday’ after they were finally allowed to re-open following months of being shut to contain the life-threatening virus.

See also: One in three will socialise at home with friends

Scots carry on partying

In Scotland, police broke up “at least” 300 house parties over the weekend, with 14 arrests being made.

More than 100 fines were issued between Friday and Sunday, with officers having to force entry to three households.

Police Scotland said its analysis suggested house parties were being held “in every community and age group”.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said officers would “use good sense and exercise discretion”, and that “the great majority of people are taking personal responsibility to do the right thing”.

But he added: “There can be no excuse for arranging, attending, or hosting a house party.

“It is against the law. Where officers encounter blatant, wilful, or persistent breaches, we will take decisive action to enforce the law.”

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