Westminster Diary: Chaos after pubs curfew kicks in
PUBLISHED: 11:00 01 October 2020
St Albans MP Daisy Cooper offers her take on a week in Westminster...
We are very lucky in St Albans to have so many fantastic pubs, restaurants and hospitality venues we can enjoy. And many of us have made the most of them as we’ve been encouraged to eat out. But it’s also been an extremely tough time for many of the individuals and families who run them, and sadly, last week things got worse.
The government announced that all hospitality venues would have to close at 10pm. This was quickly dubbed the “pubs curfew.” Very quickly, various industry bodies started to warn that this earlier closure time could undermine both public health and thousands of viable hospitality jobs.
The Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, SAGE, revealed that it hadn’t even discussed the idea, and members of the group openly stated that there was no evidence it would be effective.
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Some warned that this ‘curfew’ would likely encourage people onto the streets or into less Covid-secure environments. Over the weekend, once the curfew kicked in, images emerged showing exactly that.
I started to receive reports from local pubs and restaurants that the curfew would reduce their already-depleted takings even further. In some businesses, a third of all their hospitality revenues can be generated after 10pm.
So I asked the Government what assessment they had made of the costs to hospitality of the curfew. Then came the shocking admission: the Government had made no assessment at all.
The industry was already facing an existential crisis brought about by the broken and inconsistent business rates system. The initial closure in March was widely accepted as necessary as part of the lockdown measures, but is has left many businesses struggling to survive.
Throughout the coronavirus crisis, pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses have been dealt a series of blows. But this latest announcement appears to have no scientific, medical or business rationale. Across the country, hundreds of thousands of hospitality jobs are now left hanging in the balance. The Government must publish the scientific and medical rationale for this move, or scrap it immediately.
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