‘Tis the season to be jolly careful…’ Thanks Boris, leave the funnies to us. But amid all the noise yesterday, of a return to a harsher tier system, of mass testing and potential vaccines, one aspect of the tier system was quietly given the boot… Farewell the 10pm curfew.
When the PM first announced the tier system (what seems like a decade ago but it was actually just September) there was a further bite in the tail that somehow managed to be both economically and scientifically incoherent: the 10pm curfew. Under the new regime hospitality would not only have to stop serving at 10pm but also be empty. We have been vocal in calling out this nonsense, as have others, so when the government announced that it won’t be returning we were ready to high five. Except that would be breaking social distancing rules….
Pre-lockdown, the curfew led to huge super spreading events as streets crowded with newly booted out punters who naturally continued the party al fresco. Tubes were crammed with rush hour style overcrowding (remember rush hour?) and the whole nation joined for a collective ‘huh?’ at Boris’s insistence on the scheme. Even circuit-break hungry Sadiq Khan slammed the curfew as bonkers.
So what next?
So what next? Clearly unwilling to signal a complete retreat, Boris has withdrawn to a point, creating a new rule insisting that ‘last orders’ is at 10pm, but that hospitality can remain open until 11pm.
This is good news for restaurant second sittings, which were seriously impacted by early closing rules, while it’s also a victory for public health ensuring staggered leaving times.
However, any curfew is foolish. This new version, albeit one that’s in line with most pubs’ chucking-out-times, will simply see punters buy four pints in a 10pm panic, which might be good for establishments’ bottom-lines but will likely fuel binge drinking and irresponsible post-pub spreader events.
Meanwhile restaurants will still be stymied, just as they’re trying to get back on their feet, with rules that are designed to prevent pubs turning into impromptu nightclubs and which could never apply to a French bistro.
Either way, it’s good that Boris has finally seen sense, here’s hoping he can apply that to other areas of the final coronavirus push…