Parliament officials have been forced into a u-turn after it emerged bars and restaurants in the Palace of Westminster were exempt from a 10pm curfew imposed on hospitality and licensed on-trade locations throughout the rest of England.
Bars in parliament will now not be permitted to sell alcohol after 10pm in a rapid change of policy after The Times newspaper discovered they were exempt from the pub curfew.
Facilities serving alcohol on the parliamentary estate were not subject to the earlier closing time announced by prime minister Boris Johnson since they fall under the description of “a workplace canteen”. The news that Parliament’s establishments were exempt added to sector frustrations.
A Parliamentary spokesman confirmed “alcohol will not be sold after 10pm anywhere on the parliamentary estate”.
However, food will still be available in the Palace of Westminster after 10pm when Parliament is sitting.
The parliamentary authorities said catering facilities would remain open “in line with the government’s industry guidance, to serve food for those still working and to support social distancing.”
The Prime Minister announced on 24 September that all pubs, bars, restaurants and other hospitality venues in England selling food and drink have been required to close at 10pm , except for takeaways, to help curtail the spread of coronavirus.
A small number of venues are exempt from the rules, including canteens at hospitals, prisons, army bases and homeless shelters.
Under the rules, “workplace canteens” can also stay open if it is deemed “there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food”.
After mounting public criticism from the public, authorities have decided Parliament will implement the 10pm curfew, with a spokesman saying “alcohol will not be sold anywhere on the parliamentary estate after 10 PM”