More towns or cities in England could face “curfews” with pubs forced to shut at 10pm with the government considering drastic measures if Covid-19 begins to run out of control.
Bolton has become the first town in England to be handed a curfew after new cases surged over the weekend to 120 per 100,000 people.
All hospitality venues, including pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes, have been told to shut, with immediate effect, to people eating and drinking on site, reports MirrorOnline.
They are able to stay open as takeaways – but only until 10pm. Between 10pm and 5am, all hospitality venues must shut entirely. And it is reported that ministers will consider extending the policy to other areas if there are flare-ups.
However, government sources played down claims that a 10pm pub closure could be imposed nationally, across the whole of England.
One source told the Mirror there were “no plans” for a national curfew, while another emphasised any action would likely be in localised hotspots.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock also praised Belgium, which introduced curfews to curb the spread of the virus.
He told Sky News: “Some of those countries have then got that second wave under control. If you look at what’s happened in Belgium they saw an increase and then they’ve brought it down, whereas in France and Spain that just hasn’t happened.”
Downing Street has repeatedly warned stricter measures could be brought in if people do not obey the new rules.
Mr Hancock said: “It is incredibly important that everybody follows these new rules and we’ll be bringing in strict enforcement.”
Social gatherings of more than six people – down from 30 – will be illegal in England from Monday as the Government seeks to curb the rise in coronavirus cases, with fines of up to £3200 for those who break the rules.
But Mr Hancock denied the Government has “lost control” of the coronavirus pandemic.