The news was described as a kick in the teeth by operators, many of whom are bracing for mass job losses and a difficult winter of trade ahead.
The Times newspaper reported that bars in the Palace of Westminster - which include the Strangers' Bar – could remain open past the curfew under an exemption about "workplace canteens". It states these venues "may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food”.
Now, Sky News has reported the venues will not serve alcohol past 10pm but will continue to serve food for those working late into the night.
Publicans shared their anger and disbelief at the initial exemption on social media.
Parliament’s bars exempt from 10pm coronavirus curfew | News | The Times you can’t make this up can you @MichelinGuideUK @morningad @BorisJohnson if correct, moronic !! @chefandrewpern https://t.co/keaS7wadBy— The Star at Harome (@TheStaratHarome) September 28, 2020
It’s really becoming more unbelievable by the minute, we hadn’t heard about that one! ♂️— The Windmill Chatham Green (@thewindmillCG) September 28, 2020
Shocking after turning my club into a bar. We are known as the late night venue and don’t usually get busy until after midnight. The 10pm curfew has killed us! Thanks @BorisJohnson but hey as long as your parliament bar is open that’s ok. pic.twitter.com/pIo5LVBeqN— Kareem Naaman (@KareemNaaman) September 28, 2020
Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester and operator Sacha Lord told The Morning Advertiser he was puzzled at the initial reports.
"I've been contacted by many people who work in Parliament to say, 'it's a bar'," he said. "It's just absolute nonsense, it feels like one rule for us and one rule for them, again."
Five bars on the Westminster estate - the Members' Dining Room, Adjournment, Smoking Room, Terrace Pavilion and Pugin Room - have reopened to serve drinks for MPs and staff, according to The Times.
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “The pressure on business – the need for a thorough cleaning and rigorous social distancing measures to be in place – is the same for any business in the sector. Our understanding is that some operations in Parliament fall under the category of workplace canteens, and so are being treated as such.
"We look forward to the value of these services being recognised by MPs and hope they will provide the support that the wider sector needs.”