Sir Keir Starmer today demanded a rethink on the 10pm pubs curfew after the blanket lockdown ends in England, insisting it had not worked’.
The Labour leader raised the prospect that he could withdraw support for the controversial policy – leaving Boris Johnson at the mercy of a major Tory rebellion.
The hospitality industry, along with non-essential retail, has been closed down until December as part of the national squeeze.
But there is already furious wrangling over the shape of the curbs after the measures lapse.
In an LBC phone-in this morning, Sir Keir said he supported what the government had been ‘trying to achieve’ with the curfew, but 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,’ Sir Keir 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.’
Sir Keir Starmer raised the prospect that he could withdraw support for the controversial 10pm pubs curfew – leaving Boris Johnson at the mercy of a major Tory rebellion
Sir Keir suggested that closing times should be spread out so people did not pour out on to the streets all at once (pictured, Manchester last month)
Sir Keir pointed to the groundswell of Tories who have been opposing curfew. ‘Lots of people… think this needs to be reviewed. There’s a lot of work for the government to do over this four week period,’ he said.
He said the curfew in Wales had been ‘smarter’ than in England, with closing times staggered.
‘They also smartly closed the off licences at 10 o’clock, the same time,’ he added.
‘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.’
The move comes amid claims Mr Johnson believes he was bounced into ordering a second national lockdown.
A Cabinet ally said the premier was regretting his decision, sparking renewed calls from Tory MPs for the restrictions to be cut short.
The Prime Minister reluctantly signed off a new lockdown in England last weekend after being warned by Government scientists that deaths could rise to 4,000 a day – four times the peak seen in April.
The decision was rushed out with minimal Cabinet consultation after news of the warning, and the PM’s reaction to it, was leaked to news organisations, including the Daily Mail.
The 4,000-a-day figure has since been widely discredited and Government scientists have been forced to correct other dire warnings used to inform the lockdown decision.
Some data last week suggested that the second wave may have levelled off or even peaked before the lockdown was introduced last Thursday.
Yesterday another 156 Covid deaths were reported across the UK, down from 162 a week earlier.
Some 20,572 cases were recorded, a fall of 2,682 on the previous Sunday’s total of 23,254.
The Prime Minister, pictured this morning, reluctantly signed off a new lockdown in England last weekend after being warned by Government scientists that deaths could rise to 4,000 a day – four times the peak seen in April
Some 20,572 cases were recorded, a fall of 2,682 on the previous Sunday’s total of 23,254 (graph pictured)
Yesterday another 156 Covid deaths were reported across the UK, down from 162 a week earlier (graph pictured)
THE DATA THAT SHOWS THE SECOND PEAK HAS PASSED
TRUE DAILY INFECTIONS ARE DOWN
Promising figures published Friday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – behind a surveillance scheme that randomly swabs tens of thousands of people to track the size of the outbreak – suggested the country’s coronavirus outbreak had shrunk.
It estimated the number of people getting infected each day dropped 12 per cent in a week from 51,900 to 45,700 in the seven-day spell ending on October 31 – the same day Boris Johnson announced the country was heading into another economically-crippling lockdown.
SECOND WAVE HAS ‘PASSED’
A study by King’s College London last week found the R-rate, which measures the speed at which the virus is spreading, had fallen to one.
Professor Tim Spector, the scientist behind the study, said it was a ‘positive sign we have passed the peak of this second wave’, although he said the lockdown would help squeeze the virus further.
OFFICIAL NUMBERS ARE DOWN, TOO
Department of Health data yesterday showed another 20,572 Covid-19 cases were recorded, taking the total number of confirmed cases since the pandemic started to almost 1.2million.
But the number of diagnosed cases — which is always lower than the true estimated number of infections — was 2,682 lower than the previous Sunday’s figure of 23,254.
INFECTION RATES ARE DROPPING IN MOST OF THE COUNTRY
MailOnline’s analysis of Public Health England (PHE) statistics on Friday showed more than half of local authorities scattered across England saw their infection rates fall at the end of October.
And rates even fell in areas that weren’t in Tier Two or Three lockdowns, suggesting national rules such as the 10pm curfew and rule of six were helping.
UK’S R RATE IS STABLE
SAGE on Friday revealed the UK’s R rate has remained at between 1.1 and 1.3 for the second week in a row.
It has fallen in five out of seven regions in England, including the North West, North East and the Midlands, where 10million people were already living under the toughest Tier Three curbs.
One Cabinet minister the Daily Mail that Mr Johnson felt he had been pushed into the decision.
‘I think he is concerned that he may have been bounced into it,’ the source said.
‘He was really, really cross about the leak because at that point a different decision might still have been made.
‘There is also concern that some of the information used to inform the decision now seems to be crumbling.
‘In fact the figures seem to be suggesting things were getting better before the lockdown began – we are being shut down for a month when we did not need to be.’
The source predicted the episode would harden the PM’s attitude against any attempt to renew the restrictions.
‘It means a third or fourth lockdown is very unlikely,’ the source said. ‘All of this goes against his political inclinations.’
Downing Street last night denied that the PM felt he had been bounced into the lockdown.
A Government source said: ‘It is true that we were furious about the leak, but the PM is absolutely clear that the evidence showed these measures were necessary.
‘Even if you put the 4,000 figure to one side, there was plenty of other very concerning data, such as the hospitalisation figures, that made it very clear he had to act.’
But Tory MPs seized on the claim to demand an early end to the draconian restrictions.
Tory former minister Sir Desmond Swayne told MailOnline that carrying out a U-turn should not be a problem, given recent rethinks on free school meals and other issues.
‘We’ve not shown any reluctance to just reverse decisions that we thought were wrong in the recent past,’ the MP said.
‘If we think that the wrong decision has been made then clearly it should be reversed as soon as possible. The less damage done the better. No point in hanging on for the full month just to maximise the pain.
‘Particularly when all the signs are starting to show that actually according to the data we have already turned the corner.’
Another senior MP warned that calls for a shortening would become irresistible if the trend in infections continued.
‘One thing is certain, and that’s if the decline continues the government should be looking at relaxing the restrictions earlier than December 2,’ they said.
‘The economy cannot remain frozen like this.’