Pub curfew could be scrapped to save businesses

Pub curfew could be scrapped to save businesses

The 10pm rule could be SCRAPPED’ when pubs reopen: Ministers consider axing curfew to save businesses and make rules easier to follow

  • PM wants to remove requirement on pubs to serve a ‘substantial meal’ alongside alcoholic drinks
  • There was confusion last year over whether a scotch egg would count as a meal
  • Government will consider ending the 10pm curfew on hospitality venues
  • It may also no longer be compulsory to have table service in pubs so that people can order at the bar

The 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants could be scrapped as Boris Johnson seeks to simplify coronavirus restrictions.

As lockdown is eased, ministers are looking to make the rules easier to follow for both businesses and the public.

The Prime Minister wants to remove the requirement on pubs to serve a ‘substantial meal’ alongside alcoholic drinks. 

There was confusion last year as ministers gave varying answers when questioned on whether a scotch egg would count as a meal.

The Government will consider other ways the rules could be simplified, such as ending the 10pm curfew on hospitality venues, or making it no longer compulsory to have table service in pubs so that people can order at the bar.

The 10pm curfew on pubs and restaurants could be scrapped as Boris Johnson seeks to simplify coronavirus restrictions. (Above, a pint is pulled at the Black Bull pub in Haworth, West Yorkshire)

As lockdown is eased, ministers are looking to make the rules easier to follow for both businesses and the public. The Prime Minister wants to remove the requirement on pubs to serve a ‘substantial meal’ alongside alcoholic drinks. (Above, Boris Johnson with JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin during a visit to the Metropolitan Bar in London)

Whitehall sources have previously suggested that all shops could be allowed to reopen from April, with hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants waiting until at least May. (Above, Wetherspoon’s Toll Gate pub in Hornsey, north London)

A government source said: ‘As the pandemic has changed in the past year we have always tried to adapt the rules to make them more effective and easier to understand. As we look to cautiously unlock, we will seek to do the same again.’

Another source said: ‘There is a hope to not get bogged down in ‘scotch egg-gate’ again, by effectively simplifying the rules to avoid confusion.’

Mr Johnson will publish his plan for easing lockdown later this month. 

It is expected that outdoor sports such as golf and tennis, as well as outdoor gatherings, will be among the first things to be allowed after the planned return of schools from March 8.

Whitehall sources have previously suggested that all shops could be allowed to reopen from April, with hospitality venues such as pubs and restaurants waiting until at least May.

Senior Tory backbencher Sir Charles Walker said yesterday that lockdown has been an ‘exercise in terrifying people witless’ as he urged Mr Johnson to set out his exit plan.

Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Tories’ backbench 1922 Committee, said the country was in a ‘far more optimistic place’, citing falling infection rates and the vaccine rollout.

A government source said: ‘As the pandemic has changed in the past year we have always tried to adapt the rules to make them more effective and easier to understand. As we look to cautiously unlock, we will seek to do the same again.’ (Above, chains secure a Fuller’s pub in London)

Above, a waitress wears a mask as she works in the pub The Grill in Union Street, Aberdeen. Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said ministers should take a cautious approach to lifting the lockdown so that new coronavirus cases can be driven down to 1,000 a day

He told Radio 4’s Today programme that the argument for England’s third national lockdown had been to stop the risk of the NHS becoming overwhelmed, but said the health service had ‘coped spectacularly well’. 

‘Now that that threat is receding, we ought to be – and the Government says we are – looking to open up,’ he added.

But former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said ministers should take a cautious approach to lifting the lockdown so that new coronavirus cases can be driven down to 1,000 a day.

And Professor Graham Medley, chairman of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M), said ministers should ‘make decisions dependent on the circumstances, rather than being driven by a calendar of wanting to do things’.

Pubs have had to throw away up to 87million pints of beer since the start of the pandemic, an industry body has claimed.

The British Beer and Pub Association said the waste was equal to £331million in sales, and warned of job losses without more Government support.

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