BRITS partying in the street after the 10pm pub curfew have sparked a bitter war of words between MPs over lockdown restrictions.
The “Red Wall” Tories in northern constituencies already in partial lockdowns are leading the charge against further tightening of measures.
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But Greater Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham called for the pub curfew to be extended to off-licences and shops — with a 9pm cut-off for those selling booze.
The former Labour Cabinet minister said the pubs-only clampdown “is doing more harm than good”.
Thousands of drinkers partied in the streets of central London, Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, Newcastle and Bristol after last orders on Saturday.
Footage captured large groups mingling throughout the night, ignoring social distancing.
Drunk travellers were seen crowding on to public transport after being forced out when venues pulled down the shutters.
The wisdom of the restraints on pubs and restaurants was questioned as it emerged just 22 of 532 Covid outbreaks — 3.2 per cent — came from the hospitality sector last week.
But Public Health England figures show schools and colleges accounted for 41.7 per cent of England’s recorded outbreaks, a total of 222, while care homes recorded 25.2 per cent, at 134.
Which clown-faced moron thought it would be a good idea to kick thousands of p***ed people out from the pubs into the street and on to the Tube at the same time?Tory MP
The remainder in the main came from offices and factories, which saw 19.2 per cent (102), and hospitals at 5.8 per cent (31).
Yet half a dozen northern Tories broke cover on Monday night to demand no further sweeping lockdowns for their region in a fresh headache for Boris Johnson, who is already struggling to contain a Conservative Covid rebellion.
One Tory MP was said to have raged: “Which clown-faced moron thought it would be a good idea to kick thousands of p***ed people out from the pubs into the street and on to the Tube at the same time?
“It’s like some sort of sick experiment to see if you can incubate a second wave.”
The row came as the North East saw meet-ups between households in pubs and restaurants banned.
Residents of Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and County Durham have not been allowed for the past two weeks to socialise in homes.
But council leaders in the North East asked for tougher legal measures to prevent households mixing.
It means popping round for a cuppa in a lockdown area will result in a fine or criminal record, as could going to the pub for a pint with a pal.
The new laws will come into force after midnight on Tuesday night, but they will not affect schools or offices that are Covid-secure. The move comes as cases in the region soared over 100 cases per 100,000.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs: “We know a large number of infections are taking place in indoor settings outside the home.
"So, at the request of the local councils with whom we’ve been working closely, we will introduce legal restrictions on indoor mixing between households in any setting.”
He insisted: “We do not take these steps lightly, but we must take them because we know that swift action is more likely to bring the virus under control.
“The quicker we can get this virus under control, the quicker we will restore the freedoms we all enjoy in the North East and across the country.”
But Tory MPs from Teesside fought off being included in the ban after slamming sweeping rules.
The quicker we can get this virus under control, the quicker we will restore the freedoms we all enjoy in the North East and across the country.Matt Hancock
Middlesbrough’s Simon Clarke, Jacob Young and Matt Vickers plus Darlington and Sedgefield MPs Peter Gibson and Paul Howell, demanded that “wherever possible, restrictions should be targeted at a postcode level in response to risk”.
Their letter stated “deep reservations about proposals to ask the Government to impose further restrictions on residents”.
But that plea put them at odds with Mr Burnham, who wants the lockdown to go even further. The Manchester mayor said: “I received reports supermarkets were absolutely packed to the rafters with people gathering after 10pm.
“There needs to be an urgent review of emerging evidence from police forces. My feeling is this curfew is doing more harm than good.
“It creates an incentive for people to gather in the street or more probably to gather in the home. I don’t think this has been fully thought through.”
Mr Burnham was backed by Dr Flavio Toxvaerd, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Cambridge, who blasted the consequences of the new rule as “completely predictable”.
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He said pubs should be open for longer with staggered leaving times, adding: “Create a bottleneck and people will crowd together.”
But Downing Street rejected calls to immediately review the 10pm curfew.
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