Boris Johnson ignored ‘scientists’ warnings curfew wouldn’t stop Covid’

Ministers ignored warnings the 10pm pub curfew would have a "marginal impact" on the spread of Covid-19, documents reveal.

SAGE recommendations from last month revealed top scientists advised the government about the measure, the official record said which was released last night.

They expressed scepticism about the rules which has also been criticised by pub owners and council leaders.

Despite the scepticism, ministers went ahead and introduced the scheme, angering their own backbenchers and raising questions about the influence of scientific advice on Government policy.

Scientists warned "environmental risk in bars, pubs etc is likely to be higher than many other indoor settings", in a document produced by SAGE on the effect of measures to contain Covid-19.

They warned alcohol's effect on behaviour, the need for people to shout and some pub's or venue's poor ventilation mean it is likely they are placed where coronavirus can spread easily.

They suggested that closing bars and pubs would have a moderate effect on containing Covid-19, potentially reducing the R rate by 0.01 to 0.02.

But they warned a curfew, like the 10pm pub curfew imposed by ministers, was "likely to have a "marginal impact" before adding they had "low confidence" in its effectiveness.

The government has been accused of ignoring scientists before the documents were released.

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The records show a "circuit-breaker lockdown" was recommended for England by expert advisers three weeks ago, but they were ignored.

The also suggests all university teaching should be online over "absolutely essential" face-to-face classes at a time when students were starting or returning to university.

It set out a shortlist of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) that should be considered for "immediate" introduction.

The top suggestion was a short period of lockdown, or a circuit-breaker lockdown, to "return incidence to low levels", followed by advice for people to work from home if they can.

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The third was "banning all contact within the home with members of other households" except those with support bubbles.

The fourth suggestion was the closure of all pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, indoor gyms and personal services like hairdressers and barbers.

The final measure on the list was the online teaching in university and colleges.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth, said: “The revelations in this paper are alarming.

“The fact that the Prime Minister chose to publish it an hour after his press conference is yet more evidence that he is treating the British people with contempt.

“  Labour  warned earlier that the restrictions announced by the Prime Minister may not be sufficient.

“The Government now needs to urgently explain why it ignored its own scientists and what it will be doing to get control of the virus.”

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