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Parliament Bars Must Have a Special COVID-19 Shield

Parliament’s bars are exempt from the 10p.m. COVID-19 curfew that has further hampered restaurants, pubs, and bars

Boris Johnson drinks a pint of beer at a Wolverhampton pub flanked by bar staff
Bottoms up for “workplace canteens”
Ben Stansall/WPA Pool/Getty Images

Parliament’s bars will offer eye tests next

Parliament’s bars in Westminster are exempt from the 10p.m. coronavirus curfew that has further hampered restaurants, pubs, and bars as they recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Parliament bar staff will also be exempt from new mask-wearing rules, according to the Times.

As has been a running theme of the pandemic, from eye tests for Dominic Cummings at Barnard Castle in Durham to placing last-minute restrictions on Eid celebrations, this latest instance of “one rule for this, another rule for that” has been fashioned out of a loophole that classifies Parliament’s bars as “workplace canteens.” A Freedom of Information request showed that many of the bars complied with initial lockdown regulations in March and closed, but Strangers’ Dining Room, the Adjournment and the Members’ Smoking Room and Pugin Room all reopened to MPs during the summer.

Such is the nature of the current government that the response has been one of weary inevitability, rather than fury. Exploiting loopholes aside, it adds fuel to the feeling — all-but confirmed in reports over the weekend — that the 10p.m. curfew is little more than a symbolic gesture of seriousness, unrooted in science and not modelled for its epidemiological or economic impacts on the hospitality businesses it so seriously impacts. [The Times]

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