U-turn as Parliament's bars will no longer sell alcohol after 10pm

28 September 2020, 11:06 | Updated: 28 September 2020, 12:37

Boris Johnson's 10pm curfew does not apply to the bars and restaurants in the Houses of Parliament, it has been revealed.
Boris Johnson's 10pm curfew does not apply to the bars and restaurants in the Houses of Parliament, it has been revealed. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The government was forced into a climbdown today after it emerged Boris Johnson's 10pm drinking curfew did not apply to establishments in Parliament.

Parliament's bars and restaurants will now no longer sell alcohol after 10pm.

A handful of restaurants and bars built within Parliament including the Members’ Dining Room, Adjournment, Smoking Room, Terrace Pavilion, Pugin Room and Members’ Tea Room were understood to be exempt from the curfew as they had been designated 'canteens'.

Currently the country's restaurants, pubs and bars are forced to close their doors at 10pm due to government coronavirus restrictions, but it was revealed that MPs could still socialise in the bars onsite past those hours.

But the reports and the subsequent outrage prompted a swift U-turn, with the sale of booze now being banned past 10pm in line with the rest of the country.

A Parliamentary spokesperson said: "Alcohol will not be sold after 10pm anywhere on the parliamentary estate."

Read more: £10,000 fines come into force for those who fail to self-isolate

A Commons spokesperson said previously the bars were exempt because they are regarded as a "workplace canteen" and can remain open under current rules as there is "no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food”.

Tory MP for Mid Norfolk, George Freeman, said the decision to keep the bars open was "appalling".

But as the rest of the country's restaurants, pubs and bars are currently forced to close their doors at 10pm due to government coronavirus restrictions
But as the rest of the country's restaurants, pubs and bars are currently forced to close their doors at 10pm due to government coronavirus restrictions. Picture: PA

He tweeted: “Parliament’s bars exempt from 10pm curfew? Appalling decision – had no idea. This sort of thing is what brings Parliament into disrepute.

"Who makes these decisions?  The Speaker’s Commission? Will look into it.”

Another person said: "Parliament bars are exempt from 10pm Covid curfew! Absolutely typical, they have exempted themselves from the rules they don’t like."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the latest round of measures last week in an attempt to slow down the rapid spread of Covid-19.

Announcing them in the Commons, Mr Johnson warned they could remain in place for six months while the UK continues to grapple with the pandemic.

Read more: Government 'planning social lockdown' in coronavirus hotspots

A statement from the Commons added: "As catering outlets providing a workplace service for over 3,100 people working on the Estate, the current regulations on hospitality venues do not apply to Commons facilities.” 

"We continue to follow social distancing and cleaning measures as a Covid-secure workplace in order to reduce the transmission of the disease through social distancing signage, one-way systems, socially distanced seating arrangements, contactless payments, marshalling and additional cleaning. 

"Parliament has a dedicated team to support the test-and-trace teams across the UK, acting as a central point of contact in the event of any suspected or confirmed cases, where an individual has been working on the Estate."