Pubs, bars, and restaurants are now facing earlier closing times in a bid to control the Covid-19 infection rate.
The so-called “Rule of Six” aims to curtail the rising coronavirus infection rate by prohibiting social gatherings with more than six people (unless you’re hunting grouse, of course), in one of the first new restrictions applied to the UK since the lockdown eased. However, with cases on the rise once again, the Prime Minister is expected to announce a new curfew on pubs, bars, and restaurants in England this evening, with all such premises needing to close at 10pm, starting from Thursday. It follows a gloomy warning from the UK’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance yesterday, who said that there could be 50,000 cases by mid-October if the current rate of infection wasn’t checked.
A curfews in pubs, bars and restaurants was mooted as the “next logical step” as the rate of infection continued to tick upwards, and is likely to be just one of a series of more drastic measures expected to be announced by Boris Johnson at a press conference later today. “Why pubs?”, you may be thinking. Well, in theory, people are less likely to adhere to social distancing rules when they consume high levels of alcohol, and so using table service only and forcing punters to head home at 10pm would hopefully prevent that from happening. The move has been used in lockdown locals across the UK, such as in Bolton, and has seen some success in bringing cases down in Belgium, too.
Critics have argued that the government’s success in promoting the Eat Out To Help Out scheme is responsible for people flocking to pubs, bars, and restaurants in such numbers in the first place. The move has also sparked fears about the immediate future of the hospitality industry – when the plan was first floated in the media last week, Greg Mulholland of the British Pubs Confederation argued that “If this happens, the industry will need a massive level of support, through grants and extended furlough.”
However, a curfew on pubs isn’t the only restriction we’re likely to see come into effect this week. Michael Gove has been on the UK morning shows this morning to advise people of a government “shift in emphasis”, which will see the government drop its previous “back to work” messaging in favour of advising people to once again work from home where possible. This would also encourage people to avoid using public transport for non-essential journeys once more, but exemptions would also be made for those who can’t work from home.
The Prime Minister’s speech is likely to be influenced by a lunchtime COBRA meeting, and conversations with the heads of the UK’s devolved nations (Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) – whilst Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who may also be present at the meeting, has been proposing his own set of restrictions for the capital, including wearing face coverings in more places, reducing the use of public transport, and curbing numbers at weddings and funerals once again. Other rumoured measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, including possible new restrictions on households meeting up, are likely to be confirmed or denied later this evening – however, it’s thought that a two-week national lockdown (dubbed a “circuit breaker”) is not a consideration at this moment in time. We’ll keep you updated with all the information as it arrives later tonight.