10pm curfew 'could be introduced across Britain' after move worked in Belgium

People drink outside a pub at the Covent Garden shopping and dining district, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease: Reuters
People drink outside a pub at the Covent Garden shopping and dining district, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease: Reuters

A nationwide curfew could be introduced across Britain, forcing businesses to close from 10pm, according to reports.

It comes after drinkers in Bolton were told to finish their pints before being kicked out of pubs early in an attempt to curtail young people partying, which is thought to have led to a surge in coronavirus cases.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said bars and restaurants in the city will only be allowed to serve takeaway and must close between 10pm and 5am.

Watch: Government expand Bolton lockdown restrictions

Mr Hancock said Bolton had 120 cases per 100,000 people, as contact tracing revealed the rise was fuelled by citizens in their 20s and 30s spending time in pubs.

According to The Daily Telegraph, ministers could extended the "curfew" to the entire country, after the measure had success in Belgium.

A senior Government source told the paper that ministers have discussed the possibility of extending the curfew.

Jeremy Hunt, Tory chairman of the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee, asked the Health Secretary on Tuesday if the Government will look to South Korea and Hong Kong as examples of good practice for stemming an increase in cases and avoiding a second lockdown.

Responding, Mr Hancock told the Commons: "In some countries, not only in the Far East but also closer to home, they have seen a rise in cases especially among younger people, taken action and that has turned the curve.

"That's particularly true, for instance, in Belgium which we were very worried about a month ago but the case rate has come right down when they put a curfew in place."

He added: "We'll be stepping up the communications, making sure that people are reminded very clearly with clarity of the rules.

"We'll be taking action to step up enforcement too to make sure that we can keep this virus under control until we can build up both the mass testing capacity and, as I mentioned in my statement, ultimately the vaccine on which the scientists are doing great work, but all vaccine work is uncertain until we get clarity from the regulators that it's safe and effective to use."

It is thought a disregard for social distancing rules amongst people in their 20s and 30s is responsible for the rising number of cases in Bolton.

In a statement to the House of Commons on Tuesday, Mr Hancock said: "Unfortunately after improving for several weeks, we've seen a very significant rise in cases in Bolton.

"We will restrict all hospitality to takeaways-only and we'll introduce a late-night restriction of operating hours which will mean all venues will be required to close from 10pm to 5am."

He added: "Young people do not just spread the virus to each other. They spread the virus to their parents and their grandparents.

"I know social distancing can be hard, and how it can be extra-tough for students who will be starting university - but please, stick with it and play your part in getting this virus under control."

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