Iain Duncan Smith furious at Boris Johnson’s reluctance to ditch 10pm COVID curfew
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Speaking to TalkRADIO, the former Conservative leader blasted Boris Johnson’s reluctance to review the 10pm coronavirus curfew as he called for hospitality businesses to be given more flexibility. He blasted: “Here’s where the problem arises with an arbitrary 10pm. I was in a restaurant the other day with some friends. We got there late to have supper, and before we had completely finished, suddenly the clock struck 10 and the restaurant asked us to leave immediately.
“We left immediately with others so we then all kind of stood around in the street.
“And my view about an arbitrary single line closure, means you’re actually more likely of two things happening.
“First of all, people are going to order in more drinks to get their drinks in early.
“And at the same time they’re all going to empty out to the street together, so that’s exactly what the Government is trying to avoid.
“I’m told they have a common sense view rather than a scientific one about this.
“Well, I think a common sense view would be if you want hospitality to close at a certain point, then give them a bit more flexibility.
“Say at 10:30 you need to close but we give you half an hour leeways for people to leave in separate table groups slowly over that half an hour.”
He added: “Not just an absolute drop dead line when everybody goes out! That would be more common sense.”
MPs will debate and vote on Tuesday on the 10pm curfew on pubs, bars and restaurants in England, a measure the Government says is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, but which critics say is harming the hospitality industry.
The curfew was introduced across England last month, and has swiftly become a focus for anger in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party, with many saying there is no evidence for a measure that could end up forcing local pubs and restaurants out of business.
Jacob Rees-Mogg, leader of the House of Commons, said the debate would come on Tuesday, setting the scene for a possible showdown between government and so-called rebels in the governing party.
“The Government took the decision to move the debate to the floor of the house in recognition of the level of demand for the debate, so we are being responsive to what is being asked for and ensuring proper scrutiny,” Mr Rees-Mogg told MPs.
He defended the 10pm curfew by assuring MPs that the Government is “acting on the advice of Sage”.
Asked by shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz for the evidence behind the curfew on pubs, restaurants and bars to be released before MPs debate the policy next week, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “As regards to evidence for individual measures, the Government is acting on the advice of Sage.
“The Government has consistently acted on the advice of Sage and all these measures come in on the best available advice – that is the whole point of having Sage in the first place.”
He also told MPs that the Government has moved the debate on the 10pm curfew to the main Chamber to allow greater scrutiny, adding: “I am very glad to say that we now have a system where issues of national significance will be debated on the floor of the House.
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“And I would note on the 10pm curfew, it is a nationally significant measure, and even though it is not strictly caught by the Health Secretary’s commitment last week, the Government took the decision to move the debate to the floor of the House in recognition of the level of the demand for the debate.
“So we are being responsive to what is being asked for and ensuring proper scrutiny.
Mr Johnson has been criticised for his response to the coronavirus crisis, which is spiking again across much of the country and especially in northern England. He has said September’s restrictions were necessary to slow the spread.
But the Labour Party and some Conservatives say those measures have done little to curb the increase in cases, calling on the Government to provide Parliament with the scientific and medical thinking behind them.
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