Hancock refuses to rule out ordering pubs to shut again

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Matt Hancock refuses to rule out ordering pubs to shut again

Related tags lockdown Coronavirus Pub

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has refused to rule out the possibility that pubs could be ordered to close again by this weekend.

Speaking on ITV’s This Morning ​earlier today (21 September), Hancock said there would be no return to the full lockdown seen in March, stressing restrictions would be 'different to last time'.

Pressed on whether landlords would be allowed to welcome customers into their pubs this weekend, he replied: “Well, we’ll be absolutely clear about changes that we need to make in the very, very near future.

Asked again, he added: “It’s not a no, and it’s not a yes, we’ve been working on this all weekend, we haven’t taken the final decisions about what we want to do in response to the surge that we’ve seen in the last two weeks.”

It is understood that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce tomorrow (22 September) if new restrictions are to be placed on the hospitality sector, as Coronavirus cases across the UK continue to rise again. 

Those restrictions could include a nationwide curfew that forces pubs and restaurants to close early each night, as has been introduced in north-east England and parts of Wales​; or, alternatively, a so-called 'circuit breaker' that would see hospitality businesses ordered to shut completely for a fortnight. 

At the weekend, Hancock suggested that pubs and restaurants are one of the key places of Coronavirus transmission.

However, hospitality leaders have strongly rejected the Health Secretary's claims​, and demanded the Government drop any plans to impose further measures on the sector.

In a letter to his local MP, Draft House founder Charlie McVeigh called for a debate on the 'highly damaging' proposals.

“It is entirely wrong to blame the hospitality sector for transmission of the virus, as the Health Secretary has done repeatedly in the media this weekend," he wrote.  

"There is no evidence that this is the case.

“This feels like an important moment for millions of jobs, the physical and mental health of the population and of course the prospects for our young people. Further restrictions will inevitably lead to further damage.”

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