The new curfew on bars and restaurants: What you need to know

Photograph: U3144362 on Wikipedia
21 Sep 2020 @ 10.34 pm
| Food & Drink

Boris Johnson has announced a raft of new measures in a bid to get Covid-19 transmission under control without resorting to a national lockdown.

With socialising blamed for the surge in infections, the hospitality sector will bear the brunt of the latest restrictions.

Here’s what you need to know.

What’s the current situation?

Some of the UK’s most senior scientists made some dire warnings on Monday and the threat level was ramped up to level four, meaning transmission “is high or rising exponentially”.

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned we could be facing 50,000 new coronavirus cases a day by mid-October and a daily death toll of 200 by mid-November unless rapid action is taken.

Closing times

From Thursday evening, all pubs, bars, restaurants and other venues in England will be required to close by 10pm.

The 10pm curfew, used elsewhere in local lockdowns, will be rolled out across the country to try to prevent alcohol-fuelled breaches of social distancing rules.

No propping up the bar

Say goodbye to your favourite bar stool for a while – from Thursday evening all sectors of the hospitality industry will be restricted by law to table service only.

Maintaining social distancing when the bar queue is 3ft deep at last orders was always going to be a challenge.

Boris Johnson will address the nation on Tuesday. Photograph: Andrew Parsons/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright

Keep washing those hands

As more measures are announced, the Government will still be hammering home its “hands, face, space” message as the most effective form of virus control.

The Prime Minister is due to urge the nation to stick to social distancing, regular hand washing and wearing face coverings in a bid to avoid a second national lockdown.

What happens next?

The PM has two big meetings lined up on Tuesday to figure out how far the UK needs to go to try to get the spread of the virus under control before the colder weather hits.

The Cabinet is due to meet before Mr Johnson sets out the changes to social distancing measures in a statement to Parliament.

He will also chair a Cobra emergency committee including the first ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

What does the Government say?

The Government knows that this extra blow to hospitality – especially after so much was spent on trying to support it through the “Eat Out to Help Out” scheme – will be a bitter pill to swallow.

A spokesman for Number 10 said: “No-one underestimates the challenges the new measures will pose to many individuals and businesses.

“We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus and protect the NHS.”