Covid: Manchester mayor calls for ‘urgent review’ of 10pm closures

There should be an “urgent review” of 22:00 closure times for restaurants and pubs, Greater Manchester’s mayor says.

Andy Burnham said it meant people were gathering in homes and supermarkets that were “packed out to the rafters” once the bars closed.

Scenes of crowds forming after closing time have been filmed in cities including Liverpool and York.

But health minister Helen Whately defended the policy and urged people to head home after 22:00.

Under the new restrictions, which came into force on Thursday, all pubs, bars and restaurants in England are to provide table service only and must shut no later than 22:00.

In Wales, all licensed premises must stop selling alcohol at 22:00 and close by 22:20 and in Scotland, a 22:00 closing time came into force on Friday.
In Northern Ireland closing time remains at 23:30, with First Minister Arlene Foster last week saying that no decision had yet been reached over imposing a curfew for pubs and restaurants.
It comes as fines of up to £10,000 for refusing to self-isolating come into force in England and thousands of students are self-isolating in university accommodation.

Mr Burnham said people gathering after closures was “the opposite of what local restrictions here are trying to do”.

“My gut feeling is that this curfew is doing more harm than good,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“I think there needs to be an urgent review of the emerging evidence from police forces across the country.”

He suggested one option could be to impose a 21:00 cut-off on alcohol sales in shops to prevent the rush to off-licences after the pubs close.

Canal Street in Manchester on the first Saturday since bars and pubs have been required to close at 10pm

image copyrightShutterstock

Mr Burnham has also called for more financial support for areas under greater restrictions and tougher powers for local areas to close businesses not observing the rules.

Greater Manchester’s night-time economy tsar Sacha Lord tweeted that the plan was “ill thought out” and “shambolic”.

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Liverpool’s mayor Joe Anderson has also spoken out about the 22:00 closures, saying they are “making things more dangerous” after crowds gathered in the city as the pubs turned out drinkers on Saturday night.
Extra restrictions on socialising between households were introduced in Greater Manchester, as well as parts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, at the end of July following a spike in cases.

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation, said: “My colleagues will do the best they can to encourage and coerce people to move on but it is really difficult.

“All that you need is a hostile group that turns against those officers and the resources for that city centre are swallowed up dealing with that one incident.”

Ms Whately said the government was keeping an “open mind” about the new regulations.

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