Britain could be subjected to a nationwide curfew with businesses forced to shut from 10pm, it has been reported.
Punters in Bolton were yesterday told to down their pints before they were kicked out of pubs at the dawn of a new lockdown, amid desperate efforts to stop partying young people fuelling a surge in coronavirus cases.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced bars and restaurants in the city will only be allowed to serve takeaway and must close between 10pm and 5am.
The Daily Telegraph reports that ministers are now considering extending the ‘curfew’ to the whole country, after the seemingly successful measure was introduced in Belgium.
Mr Hancock has said that Bolton was host to 120 cases per 100,000 people, with contact tracing revealing that the rise was fuelled by Britons in their 20s and 30s spending time in pubs.
A senior Government source says ministers have discussed the possibility of extending the curfew to the entire country.
The Government will be ‘stepping up’ its communications campaign around maintaining social distancing while also increasing enforcement for those who break the rules.
Bolton landlord Kevin Banks, who said he feared the new curfew there will force him out of business
Ministers are now con sidering extending the ‘curfew’ to the whole country, after the seemingly successful measure was introduced in Belgium
The infection rates for young people have been rising recently, but so far they have been relatively flat for older people
Jeremy Hunt, Tory chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee, asked if the Government will look to South Korea and Hong Kong as examples of good practice for stemming an increase in cases and avoiding a second lockdown.
Responding, Mr Hancock told the Commons: ‘In some countries, not only in the Far East but also closer to home, they have seen a rise in cases especially among younger people, taken action and that has turned the curve.
‘That’s particularly true, for instance, in Belgium which we were very worried about a month ago but the case rate has come right down when they put a curfew in place.’
He added: ‘We’ll be stepping up the communications, making sure that people are reminded very clearly with clarity of the rules.
‘We’ll be taking action to step up enforcement too to make sure that we can keep this virus under control until we can build up both the mass testing capacity and, as I mentioned in my statement, ultimately the vaccine on which the scientists are doing great work, but all vaccine work is uncertain until we get clarity from the regulators that it’s safe and effective to use.’
Peter Sutton, from the Millstone in the city centre, told MailOnline he was ’embarrassed’ after being told about the changes across by the bar by a regular
Flouting of social distancing by 20 and 30-somethings is thought to be largely responsible for Bolton’s sharp rise, and Mr Hancock said a ban on mixing outside of households will be law.
Furious landlords were left red faced as they were told of the new restrictions by drinkers after being given ‘no notice’ from the government.
Peter Sutton, from the Millstone in the city centre, told MailOnline he was ’embarrassed’ after being told about the changes across the bar by a regular.
He said he checked the new rules online and was forced to tell punters to neck their pints before booting them out at 2.30pm.
Mr Sutton said: ‘It’s a pain being up and running and now having to close again. No notice was given and I only found out through a punter.
‘It’s very embarrassing. [Our survival] depends on how long we are closed for. It would be nice if it was just two or three weeks then we should be fine.’
He added: ‘I think everyone knew the new rules coming in to the pub. We shut around 2.30pm and told everyone it was closing time and people just needed to finish up their drinks and go.’
Mr Hancock addressed the changes in Bolton during a statement to the House of Commons.
He said: ‘Unfortunately after improving for several weeks, we’ve seen a very significant rise in cases in Bolton.
‘Bolton is up to 120 cases per 100,000 of population, the highest case rate in the country and I’m publishing the data behind the decisions that we’ve taken.
‘I must therefore tell that House that, working with the local council, we’re taking further local action.
‘The rise in cases in Bolton is partly due to socialising by people in their 20s and 30s, we know this from contact tracing.
‘And through our contacting tracing system we’ve identified a number of pubs at which the virus has spread significantly…
‘We will restrict all hospitality to takeaways-only and we’ll introduce a late-night restriction of operating hours which will mean all venues will be required to close from 10pm to 5am.
Data from Public Health England shows that more than 40 per cent of coronavirus tests done in hospitals were positive in March and April but this has now plummeted and remains below 2.5 per cent in both hospitals and the community. This shows that there remains only a small proportion of people with the symptoms of coronavirus who actually have it
Scientists have previously said cases have risen over August as a result of increased testing (pictured, how testing has risen during the pandemic)
But the number of people who receive a ‘positive’ result after getting tested under Pillar 2 has increased in recent weeks (blue line) to 2.3 per cent. It’s also increased under Pillar 2 (red line), but is nowhere near the levels seen at the height of the pandemic
‘We’ll introduce urgently further measures that put the current guidance that people cannot socialise outside their household into law.’
Rising Covid cases being driven by young people
Rising Covid-19 cases are being driven by people in their teens and 20s, where cases have tripled since July, official data shows, while the number of positive tests among older generations has continued to fall. MailOnline analysis shows infections have surged from 9.2 to 28 cases per 100,000 since July 4, ‘Super Saturday’, in those aged 20 to 29 in England.
And the case rate has also quadrupled among teenagers – those aged 10 to 19 years old – over July and August, before schools reopened, from 4.1 cases per 100,000 people to 16.2.
At the same time, cases in those over 80 have dropped drastically since the height of the pandemic, when they made up the majority of Covid-19 cases, and have halved since July. Infections among older people – those who are most likely to get seriously ill or die if they catch the virus – have fallen steadily since lockdown.
Those groups may be more likely to take social distancing rules seriously and to continue staying home to protect themselves because they understand the risks the virus brings, scientists have said.
While fears grow of a severe second wave of Covid-19 hitting the UK, the fact that most cases are among younger, healthy generations offers reassurance that hospitalisations and deaths will not be a direct result of small spikes.
He added: ‘Young people do not just spread the virus to each other. They spread the virus to their parent and their grandparents…
‘I know social distancing can be hard, and how it can be extra-tough for students who will be starting university – but please, stick with it and play your part in getting this virus under control.’
But local pub owners were livid at the change after busting their backs trying to reopen with Covid-19 protocols in place.
Hogarths Pub & Micro Brewery vented its fury at the new rules online.
The company posted on its Facebook page: ‘Despite having been commended for all the Covid-19 Protocols we have in place we have to close the business.
‘We are sorry for the inconvenience caused to our amazing customers but we will open as soon as we are allowed.’
It added: ‘Please stay home and look after yourselves – we will meet again!’
Conservative council leader David Greenhalgh said the new measures were needed to stop the transmission of the virus ‘moving round uncontrolled’.
He said: ‘This is not something we want to do but it is clear the virus is currently moving round the borough uncontrolled and so we need to halt the transmission rate.
‘The rate has gone from 15 cases per 100,000 to over 120 in the space of two weeks, and if we do not get control of the virus now we will continue to put our most vulnerable residents at risk and delay any return to normality.
‘We are working across the council with the Government and our partners to bring down the number of cases of this deadly virus and to continue to press Government for extra support for the hospitality sector as they are once again asked to close their doors.
‘The best way to do that is to limit the number of contacts people have.
‘Be under no illusion, we are in this position due to the irresponsible actions of a few which has led to a position where our rates are at a level where Government had no choice but to take action.’
The council’s director of public health Dr Helen Lowey added: ‘I appreciate that this news will be disappointing and concerning but this is not a decision we have taken lightly.
Bolton local councillor and landlord Sean Hornby, whose pub The Queens in Bradley Fold, Radcliffe (pictured), is situated just outside the borough, said: ‘I think it was inevitable it was going to happen as the infection rate is too high. I’m on board with it because of public health
‘We can assure you that we have taken all the data into consideration and we are left with no alternative.’
Testing capacity in Bolton is set to be ‘significantly increased’ with the new restrictions subject to an ongoing review.
Bolton local councillor and landlord Sean Hornby, whose pub The Queens in Bradley Fold, Radcliffe, is situated just outside the borough, said: ‘I think it was inevitable it was going to happen as the infection rate is too high. I’m on board with it because of public health.
‘The checks of the track and trace to see what the movements are show most of these infections are coming from the 18 to 49-year-olds, white population and quite a lot of this is within the pub trade.
‘There are other incidents happening where people have proven positive and they just ignore it and are going out anyway.
‘There was a bloke who came in here with his wife about half an hour ago and he didn’t want to track and trace.
‘He said he doesn’t believe coronavirus is happening blah blah blah and so I said unfortunately you’re not having a drink then.’
Pub landlord who ‘owes Heineken brewery £18,000 after lockdown
Kevin Banks, 62, owns two pubs in Bolton – Piggy Banks and The Sweet Green Tavern.
He has been a landlord for 20 years.
Kevin says he still owes brewery Heineken around £18,000 in rent and bills from when his pubs were previously shut in lockdown.
He said: ‘Covid-19 is a serious illness and I had it really bad in April.
‘For almost a week, I was completely out of it and was really ill.
‘I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
‘But I am really annoyed about how this has all been handled.
‘At the start of the first lockdown, I’d received an order of 24 barrels and then we were closed down.
‘The brewery eventually took the full barrels back but I was left with 12 that I could get rid of.’
Kevin Banks, 62, owns two pubs in the town – Piggy Banks and The Sweet Green Tavern
He has been a landlord for 20 years. Kevin says he still owes brewery Heineken around £18,000 in rent and bills from when his pubs were previously shut in lockdown
Mr Banks said his normally bustling pubs were already suffering from a lack of custon after the first lockdown
Kevin added: ‘When we reopened in July, for five or six Piggy Banks was doing really well.
‘We would only allow a maximum of 15 people in but we were full.
‘The Sweet Green Tavern was doing OK and we allowed 30 in there – but now this happens.
‘What really annoys me is that I have to jump through hoops to get a licence and follow all the rules and regulations to keep it, and then all of a sudden some bloke in London says we all have to shut. Matt Hancock shouldn’t be able to do with just a minute’s notice.
‘I have to go to court to get my licence, so why should they be allowed to shut the pubs without a court order or show I have broke the rules?
‘Just to say I have to shut is wrong. I run my pubs probably and ensure social distancing rules are kept.
‘I have had Covid but this might kill me.
‘Piggy Banks will probably survive because I own the building but I’m not sure about Sweet Green Tavern because Heineken will still want £3,000-a-month rent on top of what I already owe them!’