British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called for a curfew on all of the country’s clubs and bars in response to the rising coronavirus cases. He is ordering clubs and venues to remain closed between 10 PM and 5 AM. The NTIA (Night Time Industries Association) is calling the move “yet another devastating blow to the already beleaguered nighttime economy”.
The government has stated that the U.K. was at a “perilous turning point” in its fight against the pandemic. Officials stated that they had to act now or face a deadly resurgence of the illness. They released a package of new restrictions calling for the curfew and also urging people to work from home whenever possible.
People will also have to wear face masks in taxis and when riding on public transportation. Public gatherings are being limited as weddings, which once had a maximum capacity of 30 are now being cut back to 15 guests. The country’s plan to bring back spectator sports is also being put on hold. The government is enforcing penalties for those who break the rules.
The decision to tighten up restrictions comes a day after medical advisors broke the news that coronavirus cases were doubling every seven days and could be as high as 49,000 by mid_October if the government didn’t take action. On Monday, there were 4,300 new cases, the highest number since May.
The country initially locked down when the pandemic broke out in March. When they saw cases decline in June, they began gradually easing up, but now that cases are back on the rise, the trend is reversing.
Lawmakers in the Conservative Party are not happy with the new restrictions for fear of how it will affect the economy. And with the direct hit to clubs and venues, workers in the hospitality industry are also concerned.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality called the restrictions “another crushing blow” for the business world.
Michael Kill of the NTIA called the curfew, "yet another devastating blow to the already beleaguered night-time economy, struggling to survive and in desperate need of sector-specific financial support from the Government. This curfew will lead to the demise of many of our most beloved cultural and entertainment venues.
Kill added, "Businesses in the night-time economy are both shocked and disappointed by the Government’s continued targeting of restrictions on late-night venues and bars, partially open at a fraction of their capacity, when they have admitted that the majority of transmission takes place in households. As a result of this measure, we foresee a surge of unregulated events and house parties which are the real hot beds of infection, attended by frustrated young people denied access to safe and legitimate night-time hospitality venues."
Polls show that a majority of Britain’s public support the government’s handling of the situation. However, they also show that the people’s trust in the government has declined overall due to trouble with testing and mixed messages regarding the reopening of the country.
With Britain’s death toll at 41,877, they are leading Europe in COVID related fatalities. Experts feel this number may actually be higher due to limited testing and other factors.