Boris Johnson’s 10pm coronavirus curfew was branded a ‘sick experiment for a second wave’ by his own MPs today – as the mayor of one of the UK’s biggest cities warned it was doing ‘more harm than good’.
The PM is facing a rising tide of anger over his handling of the crisis after Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said the government’s drinking deadline was merely shifting the partying into homes.
It came as scores of drinkers were spotted in trendy Moseley, Birmingham, on Saturday night twirling around to a brass bands, despite restrictions urging social distancing.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is scrambling to contain a Tory revolt over renewing the government’s sweeping powers to impose coronavirus curbs without Parliamentary scrutiny.
MPs have also reacted with outrage to signs that ministers could go even further in toughening up the measures soon, by banning mixing between households indoors – something Nicola Sturgeon has already done in Scotland.
One Tory MP told Politico: ‘Which clown-faced moron thought it would be a good idea to kick thousands of p***** people out from the pubs into the street and onto the tube at the same time?
‘It’s like some sort of sick experiment to see if you can incubate a second wave.’
In other twists in the coronavirus crisis today:
- Boris Johnson is facing a mounting Tory rebellion over the crackdown and dodging parliamentary scrutiny – although Speaker Lindsay Hoyle is expected to spare him from a humiliating Commons defeat on coronavirus powers by refusing to call a vote on a rebel amendment;
- Former minister Simon Clarke has signed a letter with other Teesside MPs warning that a ban on households mixing would ‘condemn thousands of local people to loneliness and isolation’.
- NHS Providers chief Chris Hopson warned the government needs to be carrying out a million tests a day by winter, and the contact tracing system is now as important as catching criminals or putting out fires.
A small crowd of 50 people gathered in Moseley, Birmingham, after the curfew came in
A brass band was seemingly playing to the group, who danced happily in the street
West Midlands Police said it had offered some words of advice and the crowd went home
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said the curfew was doing more harm than good
An eyewitness in Moseley told MailOnline: ‘We went for a quiet drink with some pals. We finished around 9.45pm, came out and as we were waiting for our Uber home, we heard a brass band start playing music.
‘Within seconds there were more than 50 people gathered, dancing as if they were in a nightclub pre-covid.
‘What does our government think is going to happen when they force venues to close at 10pm following 6 months of close to no business?
‘As someone who used to be involved in nightclubs, I am disgusted with how my beloved industry has been marginalised and deemed unviable, when we are the ones who would enforce staggered exit times to prevent chaos.
‘We are the ones who have that duty of care over our customers. Open the nightclubs back up. I haven’t spent my life delivering great times and irreplaceable memories for countless people to just be swept up under the proverbial rug by those who have no idea how we operate and assume they know best. Simply unacceptable.’
It is the latest problem caused by the new nationwide 10pm curfew, which has pushed drinkers out of pubs onto the streets.
Further video in Liverpool showed similar scenes as members of the public trying to let their hair down continued the partying away from bars.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I received reports that the supermarkets were absolutely packed to the rafters, lots of people gathering after 10pm
Groups of revellers out in Soho, London last night as Health Secretary Matt Hancock said there had been an ‘acceleration of Covid-19 cases across the country’
The images are a stark contrast to the night before, when pictures showed hoards of revellers flocking to the streets in their droves on Saturday night after bars and pubs kicked them out at 10pm
Vast swathes of Saturday-night drinkers were seen downing pints on empty roads in Soho, London, while others rushed to buy alcohol from off-licences in Leeds after the newly-imposed curfew rules meant venues shut early
Lockdown fines across Britain
The highest fine for flouting social distancing rules is £10,000, which can be issued to any organiser of an illegal gathering.
Fixed penalty notices vary in cost across Britain, the Met Police sets them out as follows:
England (over 18s):
£100 for the first offence, lowered to £50 if paid within 14 days.
£200 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £3,200.
Wales (over 18s):
£60 for the first offence, which may be lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.
£120 for the second offence and for each further offence.
Scotland (over 16s):
£60 for the first offence, lowered to £30 if paid within 28 days.
£120 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £960.
Northern Ireland (over 18s):
£60 for the first offence, lowered to £30 if paid within 14 days.
£120 for the second offence, then doubling for each further offence up to a maximum of £960.
‘I think there needs to be an urgent review of the emerging evidence from police forces across the country.
‘My gut feeling, is that this curfew is doing more harm than good and this brings me back to my central point.
‘It’s potentially contradictory because it creates an incentive for people to gather in the streets or more probably to gather in the home. That is the opposite of what are local restrictions are trying to do.
‘I don’t think this has been properly thought through to be honest and it also of course damages the bars and restaurants.’
Swathes of Saturday-night drinkers were seen downing pints on empty roads in Soho, London, while others rushed to buy alcohol from off-licences in Leeds after the newly-imposed curfew rules meant venues shut early.
Meanwhile, a huge queue of people formed outside Tesco Express in Portsmouth, Hampshire, as many opted to keep the night going with cans and bottles bought from the supermarket.
Following Saturday night’s scenes, chiefs at the British and Beer and Pub Association, a trade association which representing brewers and pub companies across the UK, have urged ministers to review the government-imposed curfew.
The industry bosses, who claim they were not consulted about prior to the announcement, have urged ministers to give venues more flexibility on closing times to allow customers to stagger their exits.
Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association, who described the curfew as ‘another devastating blow to the beer and pub sector, said: ‘As we have seen this weekend, the hard 10pm curfew has led to the consequence of customers leaving venues and filling the streets en masse.
‘We would like to see the hard 10pm reviewed to allow us flexibility on doors closing time and allow customers to stagger their exits.
‘Having not been consulted by the Government on the announcements last week, we do stand ready to work with the Government to find the safest and most practical ways to tackle coronavirus whilst crucially keeping our businesses and the hundreds of thousands of jobs they provide alive.”
Her comments come after Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said the curfew was ‘ill-thought-out’.
He wrote on Twitter: ‘It’s very clear, across the UK, that this ill-thought-out 10pm curfew, has pushed everyone out of venues with socially distanced measures, into the streets, into off-licences, supermarkets, overcrowded public transport and house parties.
‘Every operator predicted this. Shambolic.’
Crowds of people also took to the streets of Brighton city centre after pubs shut at 10pm on Saturday night
A huge queue of people formed outside Tesco Express in Portsmouth, Hampshire, as many opted to keep the night going with cans and bottles bought from a supermarket
It comes after pictures showed revellers pouring into the streets at 10pm on Saturday, as social distancing appeared to go out the widow as newly-imposed curfew rules came into play.
As well as in London and in Portsmouth, booze-fuelled crowds also gathered at the popular Harbourside area in Bristol, on the streets of nightlife-hotspot Newcastle and in student-heavy city York.
In Liverpool, mask-free rulebreakers gathered in a large crowd on the street, jumping and chanting in an impromptu party. Scenes in Liverpool prompted the city’s mayor to slam the curfew as ‘simply making things worse not better’
The influx of merry partygoers heightened the risk of spreading the virus even more as they crammed together on public transport – after Uber fares surged by 2.6 per cent due to increased demand in London.
The shocking pictures come as Professor Mark Woolhouse from the University of Edinburgh – who sits on the Government’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) – said a third wave of infections next year is ‘entirely possible’.
He warned Britain will have to live with the virus until ‘some kind of cavalry’ comes to the nation’s rescue in the form of a vaccine or rapid testing and said he is ‘doubtful’ a jab will be ready for mass roll-out in six months.
The Prime Minister’s decision to impose the 10pm curfew to avoid a potential second wave has been hit by criticism after it was revealed the move was not advocated by Sage – the panel of scientific experts chaired by Sir Patrick Vallance.
Sage members are said to be increasingly frustrated that they are being overruled while simultaneously being scapegoated for the harsher measures, according to the Daily Telegraph.
A former World Health Organisation director, Professor Karol Sikora, also highlighted concerns, saying: ‘Where is the evidence? Closing a little early will just hurt so many business owners.’
Sage scientists are reportedly calling on the Government to release their advice to exonerate them from any part in mooting a pub curfew.
Concerns about the potential impact on businesses appear to be echoed by the rest of the population as a Mail on Sunday poll found voters are now more worried about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy than they are over the collective health of the nation.
The Deltapoll survey suggests that a majority of people – 51 per cent – think the impact on the economy is the greatest problem facing the UK over the next year, compared to 42 per cent who worry about the effects on health.
When asked about the impact over the next five years, the gap widens, with 66 per cent citing the economy and just 28 per cent mentioning health.
And an overwhelming 89 per cent are concerned about the impact of Covid restrictions – including the 10pm curfew on business – with just 8 per cent saying they are unconcerned.
The results suggest there is growing support for the position of Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who has argued in Cabinet against ‘doves’ such as Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove who want more stringent restrictions.
Mr Sunak’s ratings continue to soar, with an approval rating of plus 37. Boris Johnson, by contrast, receives a rating of minus 17.
A senior MP today revealed that Boris Johnson abandoned his plans for a second national lockdown over fears Rishi Sunak could quit as rift claims deepen.
Mr Sunak warned the economic impact caused by a second national lockdown would make his job near impossible.
He argued to keep Britain open to protect millions of jobs and businesses despite medical and scientific experts wanting tougher restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, The Sun reported.
The Chancellor has introduced a number of measures to save jobs and businesses throughout the pandemic, including the Job Retention Scheme and Eat Out To Help Out.
A senior MP said: ‘There were fears he would find it difficult to carry on if he was ignored.
‘It was all down to the Chancellor that we avoided delivering a hammer blow to the economy and took a more balanced approach instead. Rishi saved the day.’
Yesterday, Mr Sunak’s deputy swatted away suggestions of a rift between the Chancellor and Mr Johnson over the Government’s coronavirus strategy.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay insisted both men were working ‘in tandem’ and denied Numbers 10 and 11 were adopting different approaches.
On Thursday Mr Sunak said the nation needed to learn to ‘live without fear’, just days after the Prime Minister tightened coronavirus laws amid a steep rise in cases.
Responding to the shocking scenes on the streets of Liverpool yesterday, Mayor Joe Anderson took to social media to say: ‘A picture speaks a thousand words, and these three pictures of last night in Liverpool show why the 10.00pm closure of pubs and restaurants is simply making things worse not better.
‘This was repeated right across the UK.’
‘This was the first weekend in which the new 10pm curfew was in operation under tighter lockdown restrictions amid growing evidence of a second wave of coronavirus cases.’
In Greater Machester, Sacha Lord – the area’s night-time economy adviser – tweeted: ‘It’s very clear, across the UK, that this ill-thought-out 10pm curfew, has pushed everyone out of venues with socially distanced measures, into the streets, into off-licences, supermarkets, overcrowded public transport and house parties. Every operator predicted this. Shambolic.’
In Birmingham, police sent 1,000 revellers home from locations including a snooker hall, student party and massage parlour in a weekend-long coronavirus blitz.
Officers kicked out revellers from a string of locations where they found people ignoring the rules on social gatherings.