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Downing Street rejects calls to impose 9pm alcohol ban

Downing Street has dismissed calls to ban alcohol sales after 9pm - Credit: PA

No 10 has rejected calls to ban the sale of alcohol in pubs, restaurants and supermarkets after 9pm.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said the government’s 10pm curfew was “doing more harm than good” because people were holding house parties once pubs shut and risking a further spread of the virus.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Burnham said something urgently needed to be done to prevent people “rushing” to shops to buy alcohol once pubs closed.

“I received reports that the supermarkets were absolutely packed out to the rafters with people gathering,” the former Labour minister said.

But when asked if the government would consider a 9pm ban on alcohol sales, Boris Johnson’s spokesperson said: “There are already existing rules in relation to licensing.

“Plus there is a requirement for all shops to ensure that any sale of items including alcoholic drinks is done in a Covid-secure way.

“In terms of what people are doing elsewhere, the rule of six is in force in terms of meetings among households.”

They also rebuffed calls for the 10pm curfew to be ditched.

“The decision to reduce time to 10pm was based on the fact it had been in operation in the local lockdown areas and had been considered to strike the right balance,” they said.

No 10 also said it was too early to tell if the recently introduced “rule of six” had failed to suppress a rise in infections.

“I don’t think we’re in a position to be able to say that. I think it takes a minimum of two weeks to be able to start to see the impact of measures which we have introduced,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson also refused to rule out imposing further restrictions, including a two-week “circuit break” ban on social mixing.

On Saturday, infectious disease modelling expert professor Graham Medley saud he did not recall the 10pm curfew being discussed by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE).

But Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, on Sunday told the Andrew Marr Show there was “definitely science” behind the policy.

This comes as John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation, said police had difficulty dispersing large crowds that gathered with only limited numbers of officers available.

“You might only have one or two people in a busy high street at 10pm when hundreds and hundreds of people are coming out on to the streets,” he told Today.

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