The new curfew forcing pubs, clubs and restaurants to close at 10pm was not discussed with the government’s top scientific advisers, one expert has claimed.
Infectious disease expert Professor Graham Medley said on Saturday that he had “never heard” the curfew – brought in this week by the Government amid the rise in coronavirus cases – discussed during meetings of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), which advises Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
His comments come after another Sage member, Professor John Edmunds, said the 10pm curfew was “fairly trivial” and said that “it will have a very small impact on the epidemic.”
Prof Medley, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical medicine, also warned there could be 100 coronavirus deaths a day in three to four weeks.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme about whether he and fellow scientists had recommended the 10pm curfew, Prof Medley, who attends Sage meetings, said he had “never heard” it discussed.
Warning about the rising death rate, he said: “The treatments have improved, the way the virus is transmitting is going to be different, but nonetheless it is a dangerous virus and inevitably it will lead to some deaths.
“Now whether it is as many – in February and March we were essentially assuming one per cent of infections would lead to deaths. Now even if that is 0.8 per cent ,which I think would be a great success in terms of treatment, it still means that we are going to see deaths increase.
“At a level of 10,000 (cases) we are seeing now, means that in three or four weeks we are going to see 100 deaths a day.”
He added: “In order to stop that process increasing again, then we need to make sure that that transmission comes down now because that doubling time will carry on. The things that we do now will not stop 100 people dying a day but they will stop that progressing much higher.”
From Thursday, all pubs, bars and restaurants in England were required to shut by 10pm to comply with new rules that were brought into force earlier this week.
Along with the 10pm closing times, all hospitality venues must now offer table service only to try to help contain the spread of Covid-19.
Pub landlords in England said new coronavirus rules will cost them thousands of pounds and risk some locals being “lost forever”.
The rules for England contrast with those in Wales, where pub-goers will be given an extra 20 minutes to finish their drinks after last orders.
Changes to coronavirus regulations brought in at 6pm on Thursday mean Welsh hospitality businesses including pubs, cafes, restaurants, sports clubs and casinos must not supply alcohol between 10pm and 6am the following day.
Licensed premises are only able to provide table service for customers when consuming food or drink – and following a 20-minute period to allow customers to finish their drinks at 10pm – must close by 10.20pm.