Curfew review urged after crowded streets and house parties

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Packed supermarkets: do you agree off licences should also be subject to a curfew on alcohol sales?
Packed supermarkets: do you agree off licences should also be subject to a curfew on alcohol sales?

Related tags Coronavirus lockdown Legislation Andy burnham Manchester Liverpool London

The 10pm curfew is doing more harm to public health than good, according to industry chiefs and operators across the country.

Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord said scenes of packed high streets, off licences and public transport were predictable and highlighted a lack of consultation.

He told The Morning Advertiser​: “Clearly the Government hasn't spoken to any operator to get their opinion before they put this curfew in place because any operator you speak to could have told you exactly what was going to happen.

“Kicking every single person out at 10pm was only going to lead to supermarkets being busy, off licences being busy. We have seen scenes in Liverpool and London of people partying on the streets. I know in Greater Manchester, people went back to house parties.”

There have been calls for an urgent review of the curfew or for it to be matched with a cut-off time for alcohol sales in supermarkets and shops.

Damaging businesses 

Greater Manchester's mayor Andy Burnham told BBC Radio 4's Today​ programme he wanted a review after seeing evidence from police forces suggesting the curfew was “doing more harm than good.”

“What we’re told is the main place where the virus is spread is in gatherings in the home," he explained. "I think the Government needs to give some urgent consideration to this because if it is doing more harm than good and actually also damaging businesses that have spent a lot of money getting themselves ready to reopen, then I think they shouldn’t just plough on with it.”

He suggested a 9pm curfew for the off-trade.

The Government’s view is that reducing pubs closing times will stop people staying out later and not social distancing because they are drunk.

Ministers have urged the public to not go on to house parties after visiting pubs and to play their part in reducing the spread of the virus.

Operators have said they are more regulated than other spaces and the curfew is an unnecessary measure.

Public transport

Morning Advertiser​ reader Jackie Jack wrote on Facebook: “In cities and towns everyone going home using public transport etc at the same time was never going to work. Pubs and restaurants [are] more Covid safe than supermarkets, when do you see anyone wiping down card terminals etc?”

Paul Mellor, who operates the Cube bar and restaurant in Poulton-Le-Fylde, Lancashire, said the curfew meant " everyone in my town on the streets, with no social distancing [and] taxi queues. 

"This is an absolutely ill thought out plan,” he added.

Operator Cheryl Hickman said videos of packed streets and public transport networks were a bitter pill to swallow for publicans working hard to follow Covid-secure guidance.

“You’ve seen the scenes on the streets of cities where everyone is trying to get home at 10pm! That’s a huge kick in the teeth to a safely operated business like ours!

“Guests would be safer in a well run pub than being chucked out at 10pm,” she said.

Crowded streets

The curfew would discourage punters venturing out to her site The Bull Inn in Barton Mills, Suffolk, she added.

What’s more, The Morning Advertiser’s​ managing editor Nicholas Robinson called the curfew a “case of I told you so”.

“Of course if you kick people out of pubs and bars at the same time then there will be crowds in the street," he said.

“Hospitality is set up to ensure people interact in a safe way. We’ve been doing this for decades.”

However, another operator David Hodkinson said his Norwich pub had already been closing at 10pm since reopening after the shutdown period.

He said the curfew had stopped “kidults” from socialising later in public.

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