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Landlord’s appeal to ditch pubs’ 10pm virus curfew

People who go for a beer feel like they’ve been put on the ‘naughty step’

23 October, 2020 — By Helen Chapman

Mick Doherty, centre, with retired Arsenal stars Kevin Campbell and Nigel Winterburn at the bar before the pandemic

A PUBLICAN in Holloway has started a petition calling for the 10pm coronavirus curfew to be scrapped.

The online petition, which has quickly garnered more than 200 signatures, describes the restrictions currently in place as “draconian”.

Mick Doherty, owner of the Islington Sports Bar and Grill in Holloway Road, said the 10pm curfew was “devastating” for the pub trade.

Conditions, mean­while, became even more testing for bars on Saturday when “Tier 2” restrictions were introduced in London, which includes a ban on people meeting in pubs if they are from different households.

Islington Sports Bar and Grill in Holloway Road

“We normally operate with a midnight licence. It has taken two hours a day earning capacity away from us,” Mr Doherty said.

“We are not seeing our usual punters who would normally come out at 9pm. We are running at a loss at the moment because you want to keep your existing customers.

“But as soon as they enter the pub, they are on the naughty step. Pub managers have been asked to act like headmasters. It goes against everything that hospitality is.”

John Phelan, who works at the pub and also organises events said: “We are an easy target. Bar staff and events should be seen as key workers but they’re not.

“They are not getting the credit they deserve. We are helping people get jobs.”

Mr Phelan said he organises a range of events with celebrities and footballers that have been shut down and cancelled since the coronavirus outbreak began in March.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan (above) also called on the government to relax the curfew this week, although political rivals said he had been slow to join the growing demands for a change in the rules.

Pubs predicted the effects of the curfew in the Tribune as soon as it was introduced earlier this month.

“Now London and other parts of the country have moved into Tier 2 and higher restrictions, which prohibit household mixing, the current 10pm curfew policy makes even less sense and should be scrapped,” said Mr Khan

Last week, Matt Hancock, the government’s Health Secretary, told MPs that the curfew was a “matter of policy choice” in order to keep schools and workplaces open, rather than something driven by scientific advice.

A spokesman for No 10 said: “We know this won’t be easy, but we must take further action to control the resurgence in cases of the virus.”

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