Minister defends pub curfew by claiming they had 'looked to Europe' for ideas

Apprenticeships minister Gillian Keegan's official Westminster portrait

Skills minister Gillian Keegan - Credit:

A government minister has admitted No 10 "looked to Europe" for help developing the latest of coronavirus lockdown rules.

Speaking on Sky News, skills minister Gillian Keegan said Downing Street was trying to strike a balance between keeping pubs open and suppressing a second spike in Covid cases.

Asked if the 10pm curfew was leading to people drinking earlier, Keegan replied: "In which case the pubs will still make some money, I guess."

Host Kay Burley shot back asking what "the point" was of bringing in a policy that still allowed people to get drunk and which could lead to an inadvertent flouting of social distancing rules.

"Well, maybe some young people will," Keegan responded.

"We got this idea from Belgium. We looked at Europe and we looked at all the schemes and we looked at ones that worked.

"The Belgium one, they put in place the curfew and the case numbers started to come down. That was the science, the evidence that we have."

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Caroline Butler tweeted: "Watching this interview is making me cringe behind my cushions. I think Kay is making some very valid points, to which Gillian doesn’t seem to have any reassuring retorts."

Martyn added: "If we're going to blindly follow Belgium without consulting UK industry experts then what is the point of leaving the EU?"

"Kay, I have to say not normally a fan but you made her arguments look ridiculous which they are, well done. The government are clueless on Covid, keep it up," wrote on user.

Others attacked the strategy.

One user said: "It hasn’t worked in Belgium and they don’t have the UK drinking culture."

"Belgium closing was 11pm and they said it made no difference," added another.

Phil posted: "From when it was announced, we all knew that people would flood out on to the streets at the same time. Whereas, if normal hours had been kept in place, people would leave establishments at different times and not gather in crowds. Incompetent govt with a very incompetent leader!"

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