Pubs and bars in Northern Ireland given 11pm curfew

Imogen Braddick
·2-min read
PA
PA

An 11pm curfew for the hospitality sector has been announced in Northern Ireland.

First Minister Arlene Foster told the Stormont Assembly the measure was being introduced to attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus.

The curfew will apply from midnight on Wednesday and includes an instruction for last orders to be called at 10.30pm.

It will apply to pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, hotels and guesthouse bars, Mrs Foster told the Stormont Assembly. She said the arrangements will be subject to enforcement.

Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, said he welcomed that the earlier curfew time of 10pm was dismissed by Stormont ministers, but warned the 11pm curfew will still see the sector lose hours.

"We respect that health has to come first, but this curfew and other restrictions must be kept under continuous review,” he said.

"The sector is going to lose hours, it’s losing staff and it has lost live music and needs to be given a fighting chance.

"A curfew is not ideal, but we in the hospitality sector will do all we can to make this work, which hopefully will be only a temporary measure."

The number of cases of Covid-19 has been rising in recent weeks in Northern Ireland, with 1,513 positive tests reported in the last seven days.

Households are not allowed to mix indoors, except for single-person bubbles and certain other exemptions, and no more than six people from two households can meet in private gardens.

Pubs which do not serve food, known as wet pubs, were able to open once again last week for the first time in six months, despite the latest restrictions.

It comes after a 10pm curfew was introduced in England and Wales .

The rules – which came into force in England on Thursday – mean all hospitality venues must shut at 10pm, rather than just call last orders, in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

A 10pm curfew is also in place for pubs, bars and restaurants in Scotland, while household mixing indoors is banned, with exemptions for those living alone, couples who do not live together, childcare and tradespeople.

But Matt Hancock is facing demands for a “rapid” review of the curfew, amid concerns over people “piling out of pubs” into busy streets and supermarkets.

Labour insisted all the evidence linked to the pub and restaurant curfew must be assessed, with the review published to Parliament within days.

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