Pubs and restaurants in north of England will be ‘forced to shut from Monday’

Pubs and restaurants in north of England will be ‘forced to shut from Monday’

 

Boris Johnson could call for pubs and restaurants in parts of the north of England to shut from Monday.

The move is likely to be made after Nicola Stugeon announced a crackdown on indoor drinking earlier today, The Financial Times reports.

The Scottish First Minister said that pubs in the central belt of the country will close, while those elsewhere in Scotland will have to serve alcohol outdoors.

It is not clear which parts of the North will be affected – although those most affected by the virus are likely – and whether the closures will be total or partial.

The announcement is expected to come on Monday as coronavirus cases continue to mount up in the North, with the North West particularly bad hit.

A No10 source did not deny the plans, which have not been agreed by ministers, but stressed a final decision was not yet made.

Earlier this week 208 people were hospitalised with Covid-19 in one day in the region – the highest daily toll since April.

Matt Hancock, health secretary, earlier hinted at a possible closure of pubs.

“Outside your household and socialising between households, the highest place in incidence of likely transmission, measured by where people have contacts, is unfortunately hospitality,” he said.

“Now obviously that finding is not good news in terms of the policy action we have to take for that sector.”

Many owners of pubs and restaurants will be facing gloomy prospects if their doors are closed.

Rishi Sunak’s Winter Economic plan does not offer financial aid for the employees of businesses which are shut.

However, it is understood that the chancellor is now considering regional support packages.

Data released by the government shows that towns and cities in the North are by far the worst hit by the coronavirus.

Knowsley is now the place in England with the highest coronavirus infection rate in the country, with the Merseyside borough recording 867 new cases recorded in the seven days to October 4.

That is the equivalent of 574.7 cases per 100,000 people, or one in every 174 contracting the disease.

Nearby Liverpool has the second highest rate, which has jumped from 342.3 to 551.6, with 2,747 new cases.

Manchester is in third place, where the rate has also increased sharply, from 307.0 to 541.5 with 2,994 new cases.

All three are under local lockdown restrictions.

The announcement that people there will face further limitations on their freedoms may be met with scepticism by some.

Today Labour published figures showing that 19 out of 20 areas in England under restrictions for two months had reported increased infection rates.

Speaking at prime minister’s questions, Keir Starmer said: “The prime minister really needs to understand that local communities are angry and frustrated.

“So will he level with the people of Bury, Burnley and Bolton and tell them: what does he think the central problem is that’s causing this?

“The prime minister can’t explain why an area goes into restrictions.

“He can’t explain what the different restrictions are, and he can’t explain how restrictions end.

“This is getting ridiculous.

“It’s obvious that something‘s gone wrong here, so what’s the prime minister going to do about it?”

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