Starmer calls for curfew rethink

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Labour leader Sit Keir Starmer calls for 10pm curfew rethink following lifting of England Coronavirus lockdown

Related tags Curfew Coronavirus lockdown

Sir Keir Starmer has called for a rethink of the Government's 10pm curfew on hospitality, suggesting it would be better to stagger closing times once businesses reopen post lockdown.

In an LBC​ phone-in this morning (9 November), the Labour leader said his party could withdraw support for the policy, which would leave Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the mercy of a Tory rebellion from backbench MPs who oppose the controversial measure.

Last month, 42 Conservative MPs - plus two tellers - voted symbolically against the curfew​ ​during a parliamentary vote on the Government's new three-tier alert system; the biggest Tory rebellion Johnson has faced since he took office.

Pending any extension to the current Coronavirus lockdown that came into force last week, hospitality venues across England will be able to reopen when the country reverts back to the three-tier system in early December. 

However, as things stand even businesses in the lowest or 'medium' tier will still have to abide by the 10pm curfew.

Starmer said he supported what the Government had been trying to achieve with the curfew, but that it didn't work.

He suggested that closing times should be spread out so people did not pour out on to the streets all at once, and indicated that off-licences should be shut at the same time to discourage after-hours partying. 

"I do think we get the chance to look again at the 10pm curfew," he said.

"We saw people crowding out at 10pm. There is a smarter way of doing this. I think that if you were to stagger that differently so people left at different times it would be far better."

The Labour leader pointed to the groundswell of Tory MPs who also oppose the curfew, which has been in place since 24 September.

“Lots of people… think this needs to be reviewed," he continued.

"There’s a lot of work for the government to do over this four week period.”

Starmer said the curfew in Wales had been 'smarter' than in England, with closing times staggered but alcohol sales banned beyond 10pm.

“They also smartly closed the off licences at 10 o’clock,” he said.

“What was happening at various parts across England was people coming out of the pubs and going straight to the off licence.

“That was making people stay around in the city squares for longer.”

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