In Brief

Parliament U-turns on plan for MPs’ bars to be exempt from nationwide 10pm curfew

Watering holes on the parliamentary estate will be forced to shut after MPs blast ‘tone deaf’ decision

MPs hoping for a quick pint after a day in the House of Commons will be required to drink up before the nationwide 10pm curfew after parliamentary authorities U-turned on a controversial exemption.

Bars in the Palace of Westminster will now not sell alcohol after 10pm, but will remain open later during debates “to serve food for those still working”, parliamentary authorities said.

Parliament’s bars were originally “exempt from the earlier closing time”, The Times reported. And unlike most other other public venues, the bars would not have had to gather customers’ details either.

The parliamentary pubs had avoided the strict 10pm cut-off because they fell under the definition of a “workplace canteen”, which according to Boris Johnson’s latest regulations “may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food”.

The exemption also meant that bar staff would not be forced to wear face coverings and visitors would not have been asked to provide track-and-trace details.

The exemptions were met with anger from outside Westminster, with a parliamentary source telling The Times that the decision was “a massive own goal”. 

George Freeman, an ex-Tory minister, had warned “this sort of thing is what brings parliament into disrepute”, while other MPs told Sky News that the decision to sell alcohol after the curfew was “outrageous”, “nonsense” and “appalling”.

The curfew for pubs, restaurants and bars has triggered fury in the hospitality industry, with bosses warning that the decision may be the final nail in the coffin for many venues. 

Emma McClarkin, CEO of the British Beer and Pub Association, told ITV News that the new rules were “another devastating blow to the beer and pub sector”. 

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson has also criticised the curfew, saying that it is “making things more dangerous”. Anderson “spoke out after crowds gathered in the city as the pubs turned out drinkers on Saturday night”, the BBC reports.

Merseyside Police told the broadcaster that there had been “a spontaneous gathering around a local street performer”, but added that people “dispersed within minutes under the close monitoring of officers and via CCTV”.

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