Why are there plans to shut pubs and restaurants in parts of northern England?

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Plans to shut pubs and restaurants in larger parts of northern England, to bring down soaring coronavirus rates, have been agreed, according to reports.

The Government said it was still considering what action to take, but Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick has warned of a “fast and serious situation” in the North, with Covid rates spiking in Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle.

– What is being proposed?

According to reports on Thursday, England could be divided into three tiers.

Tier one regions would continue with the existing rule of six and social distancing laws, while those in tier two would also have a ban on households mixing at home. In these areas, pubs have to shut at 10pm.

Tier three areas could have those restrictions, but with pubs and restaurants having to close indefinitely.

– Where could the hospitality ban be brought in?

Of the 10 areas with the highest rates per 100,000 people, only Nottingham is outside the north of England. Six of the top 10 are in the North West.

– What’s happened in Scotland?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that from Friday most bars, restaurants and cafes will be banned from selling alcohol, for more than two weeks.

– Why is it thought necessary?

The Government was still considering plans and listening to medical and scientific experts, but the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said a “significant proportion of exposure to the virus” came from the hospitality sector, where younger people gathered.

Daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the UK
(PA Graphics)

Labour politicians in the north of England have reacted with anger to the leaked proposals, saying they have been floated in the media with no regional consultation, and they have stressed the need for support for the hospitality industry.

– Do all the Conservative MPs agree with the plans?

Some rebels are unhappy with the 10pm closing time which is currently in place, apart from in Northern Ireland, saying it is counterproductive as drinkers all leave at the same time, and damaging to the night-time economy.

Others have said there should be a Commons debate before more restrictions are brought in.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has also said 10pm closing was not working.

The issue will be debated in Parliament on Tuesday.

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