‘No evidence to justify 10pm curfew’ says St Albans MP Daisy Cooper

The #KeepTheLightsOn campaign has met with a hugely positive response from businesses and politicians across the district.

Cllr Mandy McNeil, portfolio holder for business at St Albans district council said: “The SOS lights flashing on social media channels are gut-wrenching when you think about the impact on livelihoods, mental health and our local economy.

“This has hurt not only our hospitality industry, but through the knock-on effect it’s also hit our independent retailers. For example, within hours of the curfew being announced, there were mass wedding cancellations leading to cancellations of wedding dresses, jewellery and wedding photography. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Local restaurants including Per Tutti, Infuse and the recent national award-winning Lussmanns have also joined the campaign, with St Albans hospitality industry spokesperson Andrei Lussmann calling upon the national restaurant industry to show solidarity this week and for MPs around the country to support their local hospitality businesses.

Andrei said: “St Albans’ own initiative #KeepTheLightsOn is in direct response to the new government law to impose a national 10pm curfew. Pioneered by Lib Dem MP Daisy Cooper we hope this will be adopted countywide.

“It is a tangible and poignant drive to illustrate the devasting impact on business from the 10pm curfew, which is resulting in thousands of lost jobs losses and business closures. To date there is no medical or scientific evidence published by any community only a visible impact of thousands leaving hospitality venues at 10pm, creating mass gatherings on the street and overcrowding public transport in the cities.”

Local hotel St Michael’s Manor signalled an SOS and the Holiday Inn Express in London Colney has also shown its support for the campaign.

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MP Daisy Cooper said: “After a second weekend of seeing crowds of people being kicked out of Covid-secure pubs and restaurants onto the streets and crammed into public transport, the government still hasn’t published any evidence to justify the 10pm pubs curfew.

“At the same time, it’s a hammer blow to local businesses. Local independent pubs and restaurants in St Albans are not faceless organisations: they are built, nurtured and run by local people, our friends and neighbours, who pride themselves on supporting our thriving high street and supporting our local community. For some landlords, their pub doubles up as their family home.

“When you realise just how much is on the line for so many people, it’s obvious that arbitrary rules, apparently based on no evidence at all, must be fought tooth and nail.

“Having received a dismal response from the Government to my urgent question last week, I knew that we had to do more to get the attention of MPs. Within hours, we mobilised a national SOS campaign to #KeepTheLightsOn with pubs from Inverness to Ipswich, from St Albans to Devon taking part. Working alongside Save the St Albans Pubs Campaign, I hope that thousands more pubs, bars and restaurants join us this Friday.”

Save St Albans Pubs is also querying the absence of equitably in the government’s decision to make it compulsory for pubs to serve at the table, which has led to huge increases in staffing costs at a time where the pubs have 25-50 per cent less revenues after the curfew, while hops and cafes, selling similar products, are allowed to serve at the counter. Previously a pint could be served at the bar through protective PPE screens by people wearing masks, which iss no different to how coffee shops currently handle takeaway food and beverage.

The campaigners are currently exploring their options to take action against the Government, including a judicial review, whether independently or alonside others around the country.