This Wednesday 7 October, numerous Conservative MPs are expected to rebel against prime minister Boris Johnson and his health secretary Matt Hancock in a vote on the 10p.m. coronavirus curfew for hospitality. Early, minor dissatisfaction at the measures imposed on 22 September has escalated over a lack of epidemiological evidence, according to the Guardian. If the government were to lose the vote, the measures mandating restaurants, pubs, and bars to close at 10 p.m. would expire.
Conservative MPs will be whipped — not literally, for anyone unfamiliar with U.K. political language — to vote in favour of the measures, which have been criticised by opposition parties from their inception. But while a first vote on the “rule of six” on household mixing is expected to be relatively painless, the curfew — which has left restaurants, bars and pubs increasingly unviable just as their government employment support depends on jobs being “viable” — is causing serious consternation.
While both Johnson and Hancock have reiterated the message that the curfew is part of “striking the right balance” between public health and the economy, the argument from restaurants, MPs, and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan is that it was implemented without scientific validation. That lack of validation, coupled with its deleterious impact on revenue for restaurants, pubs, and bars, is what makes its continuation so contentious.