Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer has called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to publish scientific evidence behind the 10pm closing time for pubs.
Currently, Coronavirus restrictions in place across England mean that pubs and restaurants have to close by 10pm each evening. It had been suggested that the rule could reduce the number of new Coronavirus infections being spread, with some people known to visit several pubs during the space of an evening. However, many have warned that the rule is in fact ‘counterproductive’ and there have been scenes of large non-socially-distanced crowds on streets and public transport after the 10pm closing time since the rules came into force.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday lunchtime, Starmer said that Parliament and the public “deserved to know” the reasons behind the restriction and said that if the rule cannot be justified, it must be reviewed.
Starmer called on Mr Johnson to publish the scientific evidence ahead of a vote on the rule by MPs in the House of Commons next week. The PM largely avoided the question, instead suggesting that the Labour Party could not decide its position on whether it supported restrictions.
Beyond scepticism about the effectiveness of the rule, the rule has made the environment even more challenging for businesses in the hospitality sector, which have already been struggling greatly from the Coronavirus lockdown.
On Wednesday, pub chain Greene King announced it is to cut 800 jobs and close more than 25 pubs, partly blaming tighter Coronavirus restrictions and the conclusion of the Job Retention (furlough) Scheme. A number of the chain’s restaurants are remaining closed for now, with hopes that they may be able to reopen in the future.
Greene King, along with other hospitality businesses, has urged the government to provide more support for the sector.