Parliament U-Turns On Exempting Its Bars From 10pm Curfew
It has just been announced Parliament has performed a U-turn with regards to its bars being exempt from the 10pm curfew.
Initially, reports said bars in the House of Commons were not subject to the new rules every other hospitality venue has been told it must follow, because they are designated ‘workplace canteens’.
Now though, after significant backlash from the public, authorities have decided Parliament will follow the 10pm curfew imposed on all pubs, bars and restaurants.
Although authorities at the Houses have said alcohol ‘will not be sold after 10pm’, as per Sky News, they added that catering facilities would still stay open past the curfew when debates are still going ‘to serve food for those still working’.
Authorities made the change with ‘immediate’ effect after facing a huge backlash at the exemptions, which also means the bars in Parliament don’t have to follow stricter rules on face coverings or regarding test and trace data-gathering requirements.
Not only that, but the exemptions also mean customers visiting the bars within the House of Commons will not need to check in as they would at any other hospitality venue.
The U-turn comes less than one week after the new rules – that apply to all hospitality venues in England – came into force on Thursday, September 24, and less than 24 hours after a report in The Times confirmed Parliament wasn’t following those same rules.
According to the report, bars in the House of Commons were exempt because they are designated ‘workplace canteens’ that ‘may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food’.
Following the report, a spokesperson for the House of Commons confirmed that the new restrictions on hospitality do not apply to the venues on the parliamentary estate, including: the Members’ Dining Room; Adjournment; Smoking Room; Terrace Pavilion; Pugin Room; and Members’ Tea Room.
That same spokesperson justified the exemption by saying, as per The Independent:
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.
However, following massive backlash from the public – with even MPs describing the move as ‘outrageous,’ ‘nonsense,’ and ‘appalling’ – alcohol will no longer be served after 10pm in the House of Commons.
This isn’t the first time this government has U-turned on a contentious issues during the pandemic. Other examples include: working from home; A-level results; the NHS contact tracing app; free school meals; and its bereavement scheme.
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