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Pressure Continues to Grow Over 10p.m. Hospitality Curfew

A legal challenge from an iconic Soho bar and pressure from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan

An empty street in Soho at 10:06p.m., with taxi headlights in the distance
An empty Soho street at 10:06 p.m.
Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images

Criticism of the 10p.m curfew continues to build

A legal challenge from GAY Soho and a call for evidence from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan add to mounting pressure on the government’s 10p.m. coronavirus curfew. GAY owner Jeremy Joseph has submitted a pre-action protocol for judicial review to health secretary Matt Hancock regarding the curfew, while Khan called for an “immediate” review of the measures which force restaurants, bars, and pubs to close at the same time, according to Propel.

Hancock had addressed the House of Commons on Thursday 1 October, calling the measure “necessary” and adopting the “strike a balance” language that prime minister Boris Johnson echoed over the weekend when admitting that the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme may have contributed to a rise in coronavirus cases. While Hancock said that there were “early signs” that the measures were working, the proportion of Acute Respiratory Incidents (ARIs) from food and restaurant settings continues to hover below 5 percent, as it has done for several weeks. Eating out remains the second-most commonly reported contact tracing event, after shopping.

The legal challenge is likely to prove more symbolic than substantial, and perhaps more important is that both Joseph and Khan’s pressure sticks to what restaurant and pub owners ask time and again: Where is the evidence that a 10p.m. curfew will reduce coronavirus transmission? Upon its introduction, Johnson said “the spread of the disease does tend to happen later at night after more alcohol has been consumed.” He offered no citation for this claim, and no epidemiological evidence has been provided since. [Propel]

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