Ministers were urged to change course on the “shambolic” and “badly thought out” restriction introduced Thursday in response to the surge in coronavirus infections.
Crowds were seen gathering every night in English towns after the curfew went into effect, with long queues for public transport and no permits as many drinkers continued their nights at one the other after the pubs close.
As criticism rained in from officials of the city’s nightlife and struggling hospitality industry, as well as some Tory MPs, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden insisted there had “definitely science” behind the curfew, despite a scientist informing the government that he “never heard” the measure discussed at Sage meetings.
Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s nightlife economics advisor, said: ‘It’s very clear across the UK that this ill-conceived 10pm curfew has pushed everyone out of the venue with socially distant measures. , in the streets, in the street -licences, supermarkets, crowded public transport and house parties.
“Every operator predicted it. Shambolic. “
Industry experts were involved in discussions with the government before the curfew was imposed, said Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association.
“The curfew has been another devastating blow to the beer and pub industry. We have invested millions in creating safe socializing environments and have gradually regained the trust of our customers and rebuilt our business, ”she said.
“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. ”
Ms McClarkin added: “As we saw over the weekend, the strict 10pm curfew has resulted in patrons leaving the premises and filling the streets en masse. We would like the 22 hour duration to be revised to allow us flexibility on when the doors close and allow customers to stagger their outings. “
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.
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 government figures suggesting that only 5% of coronavirus outbreaks are hospitality-related.
Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday morning, hours after crowds took to the streets of Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and countless other cities in England, Mr Dowden sought to defend the new rule.
“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,” the secretary said. Culture.
“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. “
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson called scenes in his city “shocking but predictable”, warning that the curfew “makes things more dangerous”.
Additional reports by the PA