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Coronavirus: 10pm pub curfew 'dangerous', Liverpool's mayor says

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image copyright@NightlifeCIC
image captionSocial media footage showed a crowd in Hanover Street after pubs shut at 10pm

The 10pm pub curfew in England is "making things more dangerous", Liverpool's mayor has said.

Joe Anderson spoke out after crowds gathered in the city as the pubs turned out drinkers on Saturday night.

Merseyside Police said there was "a spontaneous gathering around a local street performer" in Hanover Street, seen in footage shared on social media.

A spokesperson said people "dispersed within minutes under the close monitoring of officers and via CCTV".

Mr Anderson said the images were "shocking but predictable".

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The number of positive cases in Liverpool has nearly doubled to 1,214 in the week to 23 September, compared to 653 in the previous week.

Under the new restrictions, which came into force on Thursday, all pubs, bars and restaurants in England are to provide table service only and must shut no later than 10pm.

But concerns have been raised that the new curfew encourages customers to leave at once and carry on drinking together.

image copyrightReuters
image captionNew rules allow only table service in pubs

Labour mayor Anderson criticised the government for its "blanket approach".

"You can't have off-licences and supermarkets open until midnight selling beer, and pubs emptying out at 10pm, when people go to the off-licences, buy beer, drink either out in the street in large groups or go to houses, and drink in large groups. It will just spread the virus.

"The situation currently is making things more dangerous and not better.

"I think it's stupid to close restaurants at 10pm," he said, adding that midnight would be "more responsible" and that pubs closures should be staggered.

"Some can operate till 11pm, some 12, with entertainment licences managed by local authorities.

"It's not going to be 100% successful but it'll be a lot better than what we currently have."

image copyrightPA Media
image captionMayor Joe Anderson suggested staggered closures to prevent people leaving at the same time

Earlier on Sunday, shadow justice secretary David Lammy questioned the science behind the new restrictions, saying: "It's not clear where that came from."

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the table service restrictions were to stop the flow of customers "to and from the bar".

"We are reducing the closing times to stop people staying later and drinking," he said.

"And the point about all of this is that everyone has their part to play. If we all play by the rules, we can ensure that there are not further, more draconian restrictions."

However, Mr Anderson said: "Everybody knows what alcohol does to inhibitions in terms of people disobeying rules."

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