Parliament ends 10pm bar curfew exemption after furious backlash

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Monday 28 September 2020 14:44 BST
Professor Graham Medley says Sage  ‘never discussed’ the 10pm pubs curfew

Alcohol will not be sold in parliament’s bars and restaurants after the 10pm curfew – following criticism over an exemption from the coronavirus rules.

Earlier, it emerged bars on the House of Commons estate were not subject to restrictions introduced last week for hospitality venues in England as they are designated “workplace canteens”.

Under the new rules, “workplace canteens may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food”.

However, after a considerable backlash, a parliamentary spokesman said: “Alcohol will not be sold after 10pm anywhere on the parliamentary estate.”

Responding to the decision to close the loophole on the Commons estate, Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “Good, if we ask others to follow the regulations then we must also follow them, it’s basic stuff really.”

In a previous statement, the House of Commons authorities said the new regulations did not apply to the catering outlets “providing a workplace service for over 3,100 people working on the estate”.

They said the Members’ Dining Room, Adjournment, Smoking Room, Terrace Pavilion, Pugin Room and Members’ Tea Room fall under this category, as they provide a food and bar service.

“We continue to follow social distancing and cleaning measures as a Covid-secure workplace in order to reduce the transmission of the disease through social distancing signage, one-way systems, socially distanced seating arrangements, contactless payments, marshalling and additional cleaning. 

“Parliament has a dedicated team to support the test-and-trace teams across the UK, acting as a central point of contact in the event of any suspected or confirmed cases, where an individual has been working on the estate,” they added.

It comes as ministers face urgent calls to review the 10pm curfew introduced by Boris Johnson last week after images of drinkers crowding on streets in cities across the country were posted on social media.

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, insisted the restrictions hadn’t been “fully thought through”, adding: “My personal feeling is the curfew is probably doing more harm than good. The government needs to give some urgent consideration to this.”

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