The Mayor of London has urged the government to scrap the 10pm curfew immediately in a bid to help struggling pubs and restaurants cope with tier two coronavirus restrictions.
Sadiq Khan believes allowing businesses to remain open beyond 10pm will boost cashflow and enable restaurants to increase their bookings throughout the evening.
It comes amid fears hundreds of thousands of jobs in the capital could be wiped out as a result of the new tier two rules. But just hours earlier, deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam warned pubs should close at 6pm or even earlier.
Around 9 million Londoners are among eight areas banned from socialising indoors from midnight last Friday.
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The capital together with Barrow and Furness, Chesterfield, Elmbridge in Surrey, Erewash, most of Essex, North East Derbyshire and York have all been placed in tier two – meaning households are banned from mixing indoors.
Pubs and restaurants are only permitted to serve punters from the same home while adhering to the rule of six.
But the 10pm curfew has been criticised for encouraging customers to congregate in the street and on public transport after leaving venues.
Mr Khan already called for the curfew to be ‘rapidly reviewed’ earlier this month, describing how London was at a ‘very serious tipping point’ in the fight against coronavirus.
In a statement issued today, the mayor also slammed the Government for failing to ‘get a grip’ on the crisis and provide a ‘functioning’ test and trace system.
‘I have said for a while that the current curfew rule needs to be rapidly reviewed,’ he warned.
‘We saw the worrying consequences of increased social mixing on the streets and on public transport in the capital around 10pm immediately after its introduction.
‘Now London and other parts of the country have moved into tier two and higher restrictions, which prohibit household mixing, the current 10pm curfew policy makes even less sense and should be scrapped.
‘Immediately scrapping the 10pm curfew would allow more sittings of single households in restaurants throughout the evening, helping with cashflow at a time when venues need all the support they can get.’
Mr Khan also urged the treasury to give businesses the support they need to survive while the restrictions are imposed.
‘This includes access to a proper job retention scheme in line with the 80% furlough scheme in place at the start of the pandemic,’ he added.
Two households will still be able to mix outside but only in a maximum of six people.
Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham lost his battle to stop Greater Manchester entering tier three restrictions without the ‘bare minimum’ financial support earlier today.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson this afternoon confirmed the region would be forced to adopt the toughest rules with a ‘brutal’ £22million support package – around a third of the £65million Mr Burnham requested – from Friday night.