Video report by ITV News political correspondent Carl Dinnen
Ministers are under increasing pressure to review the 10 p.m. curfew in pubs, bars and restaurants amid criticism that the new rules are driving revelers to fill the streets in droves.
Crowds of people were pictured on Saturday evening gathering in city centers and crowding into public transport, as long lines formed outside licenses after sites kicked customers out at 10 p.m. .
The rules – which went into effect in England on Thursday – mean all hospitality sites must close at 10 p.m., rather than just calling the last orders, in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
But Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association, urged ministers to review the curfew and give venues more flexibility on closing times to allow patrons to stagger their outings.
She said: “The curfew has been another devastating blow to the beer and pub industry. We have invested millions in creating safe socializing environments and gradually regaining the trust of our customers and rebuilding our business.
“As we saw this weekend, the 10pm curfew caused customers to leave and fill the streets en masse.
“We would like to see the 22-hour duration reviewed to allow us flexibility on when the doors close and allow customers to stagger their outings.
“Not having been consulted by the government on last week’s announcements, we are ready to work with the government to find the safest and most practical ways to fight the coronavirus while crucially maintaining our businesses and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they provide. ”
His comments come after Sacha Lord, night economics adviser for Greater Manchester, said the curfew was “poorly thought out”.
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He wrote on Twitter: ‘It is very clear across the UK that this ill-conceived 10pm curfew has pushed everyone out of places with socially distant measures, into the streets, into the sans. -permits, supermarkets, overcrowded public transport and house parties.
“Every operator predicted it. Shambolic. “
Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy also criticized the curfew for leading to a “situation where people go out of pubs, hang out in cities and potentially spread the virus.”
And Senior Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood said the 10 p.m. closing time “didn’t make sense” as he pointed to numbers suggesting that only 5% of coronavirus outbreaks are hospitality-related.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden insisted on Sunday that there was “definitely science” behind the curfew, despite a scientist briefing the government saying he had “never heard” the measure discussed at Sage meetings.
Mr Dowden said: “There is definitely science behind it, which is why we demand that people be seated in pubs and restaurants, so that it stops their flow to and from the bar.
“We are reducing the closing hours to prevent people from staying late and drinking. And the point is that everyone has their role to play. If we all play by the rules, we can make sure that there won’t be any more drastic restrictions. “
In Wales, the sale of alcohol is prohibited after 10 p.m., but customers have an additional 20 minutes to finish their drink after the last orders.
Welsh hospitality businesses, including pubs, cafes, restaurants, sports clubs and casinos, cannot provide alcohol between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Licensed establishments are only able to provide table service to customers when they consume food or drink, and after a 20 minute period to allow customers to finish their drinks at 10 p.m., must close at 10:20 p.m.