Pub curfew should be moved to 6pm ‘or even earlier’ warns Govt health chief

Pubs could shut at 6PM “or even earlier”, government health chief Jonathan Van-Tam has warned.

An MP claims that when they asked Van-Tam if the 10pm curfew was working, he said: “Not really. I’d prefer 6pm, or even earlier.”

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer is said to have revealed his preference for a new curfew to halt the spread of coronavirus when addressing Greater Manchester's MPs on Thursday.

Mr Van-Tam spoke at the virtual summit as government ministers tried to persuade local leaders to adhere to a Tier 3 lockdown in the region, the Telegraph reports.

Mr Van-Tam is also alleged to have said during the summit that there was no guarantee that closing pubs and bars completely would help bring the virus under control.

Greater Manchester has so far resisted Boris Johnson's push to upgrade its Tier 2 status to a more restrictive Tier 3, as has been imposed on Liverpool.

Moving the region into Tier 3 would force all pubs and bars to be close unless they serve meals, and members from different households would be banned from mixing indoors and in gardens.

But Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has refused to accept Tier 3 status without without better financial backing.

Mr Burnham has accused No10 of treating the North with “contempt” and last week asked to see evidence from the government that pub closures would effectively reduce the infection rate of Covid-19 in the area.

Over the weekend however, the Labour mayor is said to have had a "constructive" conversation with the PM's chief strategic adviser, Sir Edward Lister, with talks set to resume on Monday.

The Prime Minister expects a plan to offer Greater Manchester £100million will help persuade Mr Burnham to accept the Tier 3 restrictions.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer has asked Mr Johnson to explain the technical reasons as to why pubs and bars should close at 10pm.

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Critics argue that the curfew forces more people together as they spill out of venues and board public transport all at once.

Crowds of drinkers were seen gathering outside bars in central London’s Soho at closing time and police reported 100 people were involved in incidents in Chippenham, Wiltshire, just before 10pm.

There were a number of reports of anti-social behaviour and a Section 35 dispersal order was enforced, which bans people from visiting the area for up to 48 hours.

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