The pub sector has slammed the curfew in its #CancelTheCurfew initiative, backed by The Morning Advertiser, and called for more evidence to highlight venues triggering an increase in infections.
The Morning Advertiser is urging its readers to use #CancelTheCurfew across your social media and to tag in your MPs and other politicians demanding an answer to the trade’s question – where’s the science for the curfew?
If they can’t answer that, then we want the Government to #CancelTheCurfew
Several MPs have also said they will vote against the curfew - which came into effect Thursday 24 September - in a show of solidarity with hospitality operators.
It is not expected that the Government will lose this vote but there is hope the Prime Minister can be swayed to provide more evidence justifying the measure.
Trade association British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has called for a review at least every three weeks and to look to remove the curfew if evidence proves it is not helping reduce the virus.
Operators have lambasted the effectiveness of the curfew, saying it causes bottlenecks in town and city centres while hitting the industry as it is on its knees.
Virus can't tell time
Desmond Swayne is among the Tory rebels planning to vote against the Government’s policy.
“The virus certainly can’t tell the time, and the impact on the industry is devastating," he said. "To comply with regulations premises have reduced their capacity and introduced expensive new staff-intensive procedures. Consequently, sufficient opening ours are vital to secure sufficient revenues, especially where restaurants need to secure a second dinner sitting.
“This policy, applied across the country despite widely different infection rates, makes nonsense of the stated aim.”
He added: “The absence of ‘drinking-up time’ is utterly counter-productive as far as social distancing is concerned because everyone has to leave at 10pm.
“It would have been better to devolve powers to the local levels where any curfew could have been applied to individual establishments, giving proprietors a powerful incentive to influence the social-distancing behaviour of their patrons.”
Catastrophic on footfall
Publicans have said the lost hour of trade has made their recovery even harder, including the operators behind Leeds-based North Bar.
The weekend before the curfew we were just starting to feel optimistic, sales were down but we had hope. The curfew has been catastrophic on footfall & sales, it's hard to imagine there will be much left of the hospitality industry in 6 months' time. @morningadhttps://t.co/Pr7c36vOOM— Christian Townsley (@NorthbarChris) October 6, 2020
Steven Alton, CEO for the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has said the curfew was among measures his members blamed for “huge drops in footfall and trade”.
“We hope that there will be a change in the curfew decision, but as industry representatives, we cannot allow the curfew to be our only focus," he said. "Whilst any long term restrictions on our vibrant, necessary and viable sector are in place, long term sector specific support needs to be delivered.”
While calling for a sector-specific support package, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord said: "The 10pm curfew has been a reckless move, driving crowds out of venues at the same time and into supermarkets, shops and onto public transport.
"The hospitality sector has spent hundreds of thousands installing measures allowing people to socialise safely, and these steps have been all but ignored. The curfew must be lifted, not only for the survival of the venues who are 50-60% down on takings, but in the foremost for public safety."
The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has called on people to email their MP ahead of the vote.
Updated Wednesday 7 October: This vote has been delayed and will not take place today (Wednesday 7 October). It is understood the vote will take place sometime next week.
UKHospitality boss Kate Nicholls said: “The delay is reportedly due to the Government looking more closely at how differing circumstances across the nation are addressed. As an indication that they are listening to representations of the flaws in the curfew system, this could be a positive sign.
"Regardless of what the Government implements, however, restrictions will likely continue to hit hospitality disproportionately, so targeted, sector-specific support will still be vital to safe jobs and businesses.”