Lucas joins call to drop 10pm curfew affecting pubs and restaurants

The Green Party's MP has signed a cross-party letter challenging the Government to rethink the new rules for closing hospitality venues early. 

Pub bar
Lidia Creech

A cross-party group of MPs has urged the government to publish evidence supporting the 10pm curfew or to scrap it altogether.

The curfew, which was brought into effect on 24 September to reduce the spread of Covid-19, requires pubs and restaurants across the UK close at 10pm. 

A letter written by Lib Dem MP Daisy Cooper on 28 September brands the newly enforced curfew as “a further obstacle to recovery” for the pubs and hospitality sector, as up to one-third of hospitality revenue in many local economies is earned after 10 o’clock. 

Signed by a cross-party group of 25 MPs, including Caroline Lucas, the letter calls on the government to publish scientific and behavioural evidence supporting the curfew or reverse it. 

The letter advocates an extended furlough scheme for the businesses asked to close at 10pm, as well as widening the five per cent VAT rate to include all hospitality sales. 

Explaining the support for the letter, Lucas commented: “Restrictions on what people can do are being brought in without the evidence to back them up. The 10pm curfew is the latest example, with reports that it hadn’t even been modelled by the Government’s own scientific advisory group and there appears to be no evidence that it will be effective.  

 “If there is, it should be published because what we’ve seen so far suggests it isn’t working. It hurts pubs’ incomes and may not be controlling the spread of the virus.”

The measures outlined in the letter aim to help the pubs and hospitality sector to plan for future recovery from Covid-19, as well as stem the unintended consequence of people gathering in less safe environments and further spreading the virus. 

The letter comes ahead of the renewal of the Coronavirus Bill, which was voted for by 330 MPs yesterday (30 September), with 24 against it. 

Opposing the renewal of the Bill, Caroline Lucas said: “The Coronavirus Act is a sweeping piece of legislation that hands far too many powers to government ministers with minimal oversight by Parliament. There is growing evidence that those powers are being misused which is why I voted against its renewal. 

  “People have shown a huge readiness to comply with restrictions on their social freedom for the greater good. But that trust is being rapidly eroded by the arbitrary way those restrictions are being imposed.  We need more transparency and better decision-making, and it needs to happen now.”