Sadiq Khan has called for England’s 10pm curfew to be scrapped in a bid to save London’s ailing hospitality industry.
The mayor of London said the curfew made no sense now that household mixing was banned indoors as a part of the latest Tier 2 restrictions placed on the capital last week.
“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,” Khan said.
Hundreds of hospitality workers descended on Parliament Squre yesterday to protest against the curfew and the wider set of Covid restrictions imposed in London.
The curfew has been much criticised by the hospitality industry for severely reducing customer numbers at a time where the sector is already suffering mass job losses.
The 10pm lockout has also been criticised for creating bottlenecks at Tube stations after venues are forced to close, which could potentially help spread Covid.
London minister Paul Scully said last week that the government was considering extending the curfew to 11pm to bring it in line with Northern Ireland.
Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pubs Association, said when the curfew was announced two weeks ago that it would be “devastating” for the pub trade.
Today she added that the government should commit to reviewing its measures on a “regular basis” and remove them if they were not effective:
“It remains the case there is no hard evidence as yet to suggest that pubs, with their strict adherence to government guidelines, are unsafe, making it unclear if local lockdowns, or indeed the 10pm curfew, will have any material impact at all on transmission.”
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, threw his support behind the Mayor’s call.
“These restrictions have had a catastrophic impact on trade within the Night Time Economy, and are further exacerbated by an insufficient financial support package presented by the Chancellor in an attempt to sustain businesses through this period.
“We are seeing businesses being systematically closed right across the UK with over 700,000 jobs at risk within the Night Time Economy”, he added.
Katie Nicholls of UK Hospitality said that the curfew had been “evidently counterproductive”, with the mass exodus of punters leading to crowding on the streets and public transport.
Khan also today called for greater support to businesses and an improved test and trace programme to prevent further coronavirus outbreaks in the capital.
“The government still haven’t got a grip on this virus and provided a functioning test and trace system,” he said.
“Ministers must give businesses the support they need to survive while restrictions remain in place.
“This includes access to a proper job retention scheme in line with the 80 per cent furlough scheme in place at the start of the pandemic.”
Conservative mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey said Khan went from “calling for a lockdown” last week to “asking the government to scrap the 10pm curfew that he himself demanded”.
“These ridiculous flip flops show that Sadiq Khan’s out of his depth,” he said.
“If he wants to help the hospitality industry, he should listen to businesses and reverse his congestion charge hike.”