Johnson blames the chaos of his 10pm curfew on ‘hobnobbers’

Boris Johnson has defended the controversial 10pm curfew. And he’s blamed people who choose to “hobnob” outside pubs after hours for the sometimes chaotic scenes in city centres at closing time.

Scientists advising the government have already warned that the measure may be doing more harm than good. It’s caused long queues outside off-licences, as people rush to buy more alcohol, and revellers piling onto public transport with little or no social distancing.

The prime minister also said that if the Eat Out To Help Out discount scheme had helped to spread coronavirus (Covid-19), then that needs to be counteracted with “discipline”.

Coronavirus – Sat Oct 3, 2020
Passengers on a Northern Line train in London on Saturday night (Victoria Jones/PA)
Everybody out

Asked to provide hard scientific evidence for the 10pm curfew, the PM told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show:

Well the scientific evidence is of course that the virus is transmitted by person-to-person contact.

Yes it’s transmitted in homes, it’s transmitted between people, but it’s also transmitted in what they call the hospitality sectors, it’s transmitted in pubs and bars and restaurants, particularly as people get more convivial as the evening goes on.

Johnson, referring to pub customers who’ve spent the evening drinking alcohol, said people “just need to follow the guidance”, and that:

Obviously it makes no sense if, having followed the guidance for all the time in the pub, they then pour out into the street and hobnob in such a way as to spread the virus.

Coronavirus – Sat Oct 3, 2020
People shelter from the rain in Soho, London, ahead of the 10pm curfew (Victoria Jones/PA)

He added:

The answer is for all of us to follow the guidance.

Eat out to spread it about

It was put to Johnson that the government was paying the public to go and eat out and urging them to return to offices, and that both had spread the virus.

He told Marr:

I take full responsibility for everything that’s happened since the pandemic began of course. And the Government is trying as I say throughout this to strike a balance. We had to go into lockdown in March and April and that was effective in bringing the virus down.

I think it was right to reopen the economy. I think if we hadn’t done that Andrew, if we hadn’t got things moving again in the summer, I mean we would be looking at many more hundreds of thousands of jobs lost.

Coronavirus – Fri Oct 2, 2020
People enter Oxford Circus Underground station in London after the 10pm curfew on Friday night (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

It was again suggested that Eat Out To Help Out spread the virus. Johnson told the programme:

I also think, I also think that it is important now, irrespective of whether Eat Out To Help Out you know, what the balance of there was, it unquestionably helped to protect many… there are two million jobs at least in the hospitality sector.

It was very important to keep those jobs going. Now, if it, insofar as that scheme may have helped to spread the virus, then obviously we need to counteract that and we need to counteract that with the discipline and the measures that we’re proposing.

I hope you understand the balance we’re trying to strike.

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