The Government has firmly rejected calls to review the 10pm curfew despite ‘closing time parties’ taking place on the streets.
It comes after criticism the new strict closing time is making things ‘worse not better’ in the fight against coronavirus after crowds have been pictured spilling out onto the streets at the same time.
Scenes across the weekend showed large groups of people in Birmingham, Liverpool and York city centres singing, dancing and partying together with a lack of social distancing.
Videos from London – which is currently seeing a spike in infections and is at risk of a local lockdown – show many people cramming into Tube stations at the same time.
But when asked if the restriction would be reconsidered, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: ‘No. I would obviously say we keep all of our social distancing measures under review but no there’s nothing in that regard.’
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He said there are existing rules around how off-licences serve the public during the pandemic when asked about concerns of them being busy after the curfew time.
And he also suggested changing the time to allow more flexibility for a staggering of exit times from pubs was not being considered.
‘I’m not aware of anything specific in that regard. The decision to reduce time to 10pm was based on the fact it had been in operation in the local lockdown areas and had been considered to strike the right balance,’ he added.
The spokesperson said there was a ‘particular media focus around Liverpool’ and hinted the individuals involved were to blame.
He pointed towards a statement from Merseyside Police Superintendent Chris Gibson who said images of a ‘spontaneous gathering around a local street performer’ did not ‘reflect the overall behaviour of people in Liverpool this weekend’.
Merseyside went into local lockdown last week after a rise in cases.
‘The rules were introduced for a reason,’ added the No 10 spokesperson.
‘I think the PM was clear when he addressed the nation on Tuesday that everybody does have a part to play and that we do all need to pull together and by doing so we can hopefully help to prevent the need for further restrictions.’
Footage of the street parties drew widespread criticism on social media.
One person said: ‘Lost my dad to Covid in April. He was 62. I’ve now just been made redundant. The longer this goes the worse things are going to get for everyone and people acting like this is only going to prolong it. This is heartbreaking tbh.’
Another said: ‘So predictable these scenes and they symbolise perfectly the idiocy of the curfew: how not to facilitate social distancing.’
It comes after it was reported ministers are considering a ‘total social lockdown’ for London and parts of the North if infection rates do not fall.
A senior Government source told The Times the country ‘wasn’t ready’ to hear the plans last week, but they have been suggested to help stop the second wave in its tracks.
Under the emergency plan, pubs, restaurants and hospitality venues would be forced to shut for at least two weeks and households would be banned from meeting each other in any indoor location.
Schools, essential shops and offices where people cannot work from home would be left open.
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