Govt facing calls for 10pm pub curfew to be urgently reviewed

Tighter social restrictions could be imposed if coronavirus infections continue to rise, a minister has suggested.

Helen Whately said “we don’t want to” bring in measures taking the UK back towards a second national lockdown but cautioned the government is keeping a “constant eye” on COVID-19 cases.

It comes amid a warning the new 10pm curfew for pubs, bars and restaurants could be “doing more harm than good”.

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REDCAR, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Staff at a NHS appointment only testing facility take testing kits from members of the public at a temporary testing facility at Kirkleatham on September 21, 2020 in Redcar, England. The UK could see 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October without further restrictions according to Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific adviser. The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is considering whether to introduce further measures in England.
Image: The latest figures show 5,693 new coronavirus cases reported on Sunday

Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, called for an “urgent review” of the policy brought in last week because it “creates an incentive for people to gather in the street or more probably to gather in the home”.

“I don’t think this has been fully thought through,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Ms Whately called scenes of people partying and not distancing after leaving pubs at 10pm “worrying” and when asked if further changes were on the way, pointed to the rules banning household mixing in parts of northwest and northeast England.

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It follows a report in The Times that a “total social lockdown” could be enforced across much of northern Britain and London – with all pubs and restaurants ordered to shut for two weeks.

Households would also be banned from meeting each in other in any indoor location, but schools, shops and offices would remain open.

The newspaper quoted a senior government source as saying the nation and Conservative MPs weren’t “ready” for such action but it “will have to come”.

Ms Whately did not deny the plan is being considered.

“We have an opportunity – a choice – as a country to get this back under control again,” she said.

“This is our moment in time to make sure we’re doing social distancing and the rule of six. That’s how we control it.”

The latest figures released on Sunday show there were 5,693 new coronavirus cases in the UK and a further 17 people who died within 28 days of testing positive.

Higher daily infections were reported earlier in the week – including the highest on record across the country.

Experts warn case numbers will be higher given testing capacity has been dramatically increased compared with the spring.

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