In his Today interview Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, also denied reports saying Manchester students who have been told told to stay in their university accommodation were being banned from going for coronavirus tests. “I have spoken to the vice-chancellor and I am assured that people are able to leave if they have got good reason to do that,” he said.
Micheál Martin, the Irish taoiseach (PM), has said he is “not that optimistic” about the EU and the UK reaching a trade deal. In an interview with the i, to be broadcast today a part of the Lib Dems’ online conference, Martin was asked if he thought a trade deal was likely. He replied:
I’m not that optimistic, if I’m honest. Just to let you know that the [Irish] government is preparing its budget in three weeks’ time on the basis that there will be a no-deal Brexit.
That’s the basis on which we’re preparing the budget and we’re warning and alerting businesses to that terrible reality.
I think progress has been slow in the talks so far, I think there is still potential for a deal, I believe a deal is the sane and sensible thing to do, and I think all of us as politicians have an obligation to those we represent – and in terms of Brexit that means the least damage possible to workers, to employers and to business and economy.
According to a Times story (paywall) by Esther Webber, the bars in parliament are exempt from the rule saying pubs in England must stop selling alcohol at 10pm. She explains:
Facilities serving alcohol on the parliamentary estate are understood to be exempt from the earlier closing time on the basis that they fall under the description of “a workplace canteen”.
Asked about the story in her Today interview, the health minister Helen Whateley said she did not know if this was true but that, if it was, she did not think it was right for MPs’ bars to be exempt. “We at parliament shouldn’t be sitting around late at night drinking,” she said. “We’ve got a job to do.” But she stressed it was a matter for parliament.
Helen Whateley, the health minister, was interviewed on the Today programme after Andy Burnham. Asked about his call for a review of the rule for pubs in England to close at 10pm (see 9am), she gave a non-committal answer, saying it was “clearly early days”.
Burnham also said in his interview that, if the rule was going to stay, one solution might be to stop shops selling alcohol after 9pm, so that drinkers could not pile into supermarkets after being thrown out of the pubs at 10pm (something he said was happening in Manchester at the weekend). Whateley said the government would keep “an open mind” on this issue.
In a separate interview on BBC Breakfast Whateley defended the 10pm rule. She said:
As people drink more they tend to socially distance less. So one approach to keeping people socially distancing is to limit the amount of time that people are in places where they are drinking and then this breaking down of compliance with the rules.
We have also seen in some of the places where there have been higher rates over the summer that sometimes bars have been the places where there has been an outbreak so this is a reason why one of the actions we have taken is to have people stopping being out drinking at an earlier time.
According to a report by Glen Owen in the Mail on Sunday yesterday Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, was one of the figure in cabinet most responsible for the 10pm closing time for pubs being a firm deadline. Owen wrote:
When the issue was put to the full cabinet on Tuesday, resistance flared again when business secretary Alok Sharma and environment secretary George Eustice suggested that it would be safer to taper the curfew with last orders at 10pm, rather than force everyone on to the streets at the same time.
But Mr Gove insisted that there should be a strict 10pm ‘guillotine’.
Good morning. Boris Johnson only announced the rule forcing pubs in England to close at 10pm six days ago, and it only came into force on Thursday, but already he is under pressure to abandon it. This morning on the Today programme Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said he thought it was counter-productive. He explained:
There needs to be an urgent review of the emerging evidence from police forces across the country. My gut feeling is that this curfew is doing more harm than good … It creates an incentive for people to gather in the streets, or more probably to gather in the home, and that is the opposite of what our local restrictions here are trying to do.
So I don’t think this been fully thought through, to be honest.
Burnham said that in Manchester at the weekend the supermarkets were “packed to the rafters” after 10pm with people buying alcohol so they could continue drinking after the pubs had closed.
He also said the 10pm closing time was damaging to bars and restaurant which had taken “massive steps” to make themselves Covid secure.
Asked if he thought the 10pm rule should be abandoned, he replied: “My gut feeling would say it probably should.”
Here is the agenda for the day.
12pm: Downing Street lobby briefing.
12.15pm: The Scottish government is expected to hold its daily coronavirus briefing.
2.30pm: Priti Patel, the home secretary, takes questions in the Commons.
3pm: Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, delivers his speech to the party’s online conference.
3.30pm: A Commons urgent question is expected on rCovid restrictions on students.
After 3.30pm: MPs hold a general debate on coronavirus.
Also in Brussels Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, and Maroš Šefčovič, the European commission vice president, are co-chairing a meeting of the joint committee, the body set up to implement the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
Politics Live has been doubling up as the UK coronavirus live blog for some time and, given the way the Covid crisis eclipses everything, this will continue for the foreseeable future. But we will be covering non-Covid political stories too, and where they seem more important and interesting, they will take precedence.
Here is our global coronavirus live blog.
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