London needs an “immediate review” of the “arbitrary” curfew for restaurants, pubs and bars, according to Sadiq Khan and his night czar.
Since last Thursday (September 24), hospitality businesses across the country have shut their doors at 10pm to stop the spread of coronavirus.
But images of punters spilling out onto the streets and public transport at closing time have sparked fears the new rules could be making things worse.
Now the Mayor has called on the Government to address “unintended consequences” of the law as the capital faces a “serious tipping point” in its fight against the virus.
“Given the Government’s failure to set up an adequate testing or contact tracing system, they left themselves no choice but to implement further measures that would limit people mixing,” Mr Khan claimed.
“But there have been some real concerns over the past week that the current 10pm closing time for pubs, bars and restaurants may be counter-productive […] given the scenes we’ve seen across the UK of people gathering and drinking on the streets once licensed premises close.”
His night czar Amy Lamé – an ambassador for pubs, clubs and bars in the city – also urged the Government to rethink the “arbitrary” rule.
“There’s nothing magic about 10pm: the virus doesn’t care what time it is,” she said on Twitter.
“What matters is Covid-19 secure environments, test, track and trace. Nightclubs, pubs, bars and restaurants are well equipped for Covid-19 rules. We are part of the solution not the problem.”
It comes as coronavirus cases rose in 28 London boroughs in the latest Public Health England data, released yesterday (Wednesday September 30).
Rebridge remains the worst hit local authority, with 59 cases per 100,000 people, and a new testing centre opened in Gants Hill today.
More than 100 new cases were also confirmed in Waltham Forest, Enfield, Barnet, Brent, Newham, Hackney, Southwark, Lambeth, and Wandsworth this week.
Public Health England’s London boss, Professor Kevin Fenton, said residents “still hold the key” to halting the spread of Covid-19.
“Small actions can have a big impact on these trends, and by sticking to social distancing, practising good hand hygiene and following guidelines around the rule of six and face coverings, we can all play our part,” he said.
“Londoners have done it before and now is the time to do it again.”