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Fury as Parliament’s taxpayer-subsidised bars not subject to 10pm curfew

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Fury has broken out after it emerged Parliament’s taxpayer-subsidised bars are exempt from the 10pm curfew.

MPs and staff will be able to continue drinking despite revellers being booted out of pubs across the country.

Parliament’s watering holes are not subject to the closing time as they are considered as a “workplace canteen”, the Times reported.

Visitors will reportedly not have to give their name and contact details, while customers and bar staff do not have to follow stricter rules on face coverings.

This is because there is a team that is already responsible for tracking Covid-19 cases in Parliament.

Under the new regulations announced last week by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a bid to tackle coronavirus, workplace canteens can stay open where there is no alternative for workers to get food.

Bars that recently reopened on the parliament estate include the Members’ Smoking Room, the Pugin Room, Strangers’ Dining Room and the Adjournment.

Trade unions are expected to object to their members who work in the bars being put at risk by being exempt from the new regulations.

The current arrangements will be under review by the House of Commons authorities.

But one parliamentary source told the Times it was "a massive own goal".

Critics on social media claimed you “couldn’t make it up”.

Comedian John O’Farrell tweeted: “Is it that they were worried about the most dangerous and destructive individuals all spilling out onto the streets at 10pm, so they kept the House of Commons bars open?”

Luisa Porritt, a Lib Dem councillor in Camden, north London, wrote: “Parliament's bars aren't going to go bust.

“There is a real risk our pubs, bars and restaurants in London and across the UK could.

“This is a disgracefully out of touch decision that shows a lack of concern for the difficulties so many businesses are facing.”

The 10pm curfew, which affects all pubs, bars and restaurants, has been criticised for causing crowds of revellers to cram out onto the streets and public transport after closing time.

Kate Nicholls, the head of industry group UKHospitality, said last week: “These restrictions will come as another crushing blow for many hospitality businesses struggling to recover so it’s crucial these new rules are applied with flexibility.

“A hard close time is bad for business and bad for controlling the virus – we need to allow time for people to disperse over a longer period.”

The House of Commons has been approached for comment.

  • Pubs
  • London
  • Westminster

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