Pubs ‘could be forced to close at 9pm’ if rule of six fails

Pubs could be forced to call last orders early if the ‘rule of six’ does not slow the spread of coronavirus.

A curfew of 9pm could be imposed on pubs amid concerns over a rise in infections, after the R rate rose to above 1 across the UK.

A ministerial ‘Covid Gold Command’ meeting is understood to have been arranged for Tuesday to discuss ways to curb the spread and a curfew on boozers is being considered, reported The Sun.

‘Curfew is hurtling up the agenda,’ one source told the paper, while another said it was ‘actively under consideration’ but it would not be an ‘imminent’ enforcement.

From Monday, anyone meeting up in groups of more than six could be broken up by police or face a fine of up to £100.

It applies to gatherings indoors and outdoors, including pubs, restaurants, private homes and parks. Schools, workplaces and places of worship are exempt.

The proposal of a pub curfew could put further pressure on the chancellor who is being urged to extend the furlough scheme for the hospitality sector.

Greg Mulholland, of the British Pubs Confederation, warned that if the curfew were to come into effect, the industry would need a ‘massive level of support’ through an extended furlough scheme and grants.

He said pubs have been ‘diligently following the rules’, adding: ‘These proposals risk destroying the Great British pub.’

It comes after Britons were warned that a 10pm curfew could be put in place across the country as part of efforts to avoid a second peak in infections.

Venues in Bolton are already required to close between 10pm and 5am, with restaurants only permitted to sell takeaways, after the town’s infection rate became the highest in England.

Young people in particular have been urged to stick to the new ‘rule of six’, as the country’s infection rate continues to rise.

A total of 3,330 coronavirus cases were reported on Sunday – up 11% from the previous Sunday.

On Monday, another 2,621 people tested positive for the virus.

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