Sir Patrick Vallance admits 'NO hard evidence' behind 10pm curfew

Sir Patrick Vallance admits there is ‘NO hard evidence’ that pub curfews slow coronavirus transmission and says 10pm rule in England was a ‘policy decision’

  • Chief scientific adviser said it was a ‘policy decision’, not one based on science
  • Sir Patrick said curfews ‘not something you can model with degree of accuracy’
  • 10pm rule introduced in September but was pushed back to 11pm this month

There was ‘no hard evidence’ England’s controversial 10pm curfew prevented coronavirus from spreading, Sir Patrick Vallance has admitted.

The chief scientific adviser said it was a ‘policy decision’ designed to limit the amount of time people spent indoors together – where Covid spreads most easily. 

But he conceded the intervention was not backed up with any scientific proof because curfews ‘are not something you can model with any degree of accuracy’.

The 10pm rule was introduced in September across England as part of national lockdown restrictions aimed at curbing the second wave of the epidemic.

However it was heavily criticised by hospitality bosses who said it was damaging the already cash-strapped sector. 

While local leaders, including London Mayor Sadiq Khan, claimed it led to increased social mixing on the streets and on public transport after final orders.

Sir Patrick told the Commons Health and Science Committee today: ‘There’s no real hard evidence on curfew times.

‘What you can see across Europe and indeed in this country is that keeping people together longer in an indoor environment, where there’s also alcohol, is likely to increase risk. 

There was ‘no hard evidence’ that England’s controversial 10pm curfew prevented coronavirus from spreading, Sir Patrick Vallance has admitted 

‘And therefore that was a policy decision around trying to reduce the potential of interactions.

‘It’s not something you can model with any degree of accuracy and say a particular time will give you a particular result.’

Sir Patrick also admitted there was very little proof showing that targeting pubs, bars and restaurants with lockdown actually worked.

He said there were strong indications that hospitality settings drive transmission, but admitted ‘we cant give specific data on that and neither can anyone else around the world’.

Britain will need lockdowns until MARCH even with vaccines, Professor Chris Whitty warns 

Britain will remain in some form of lockdown until at least March despite the roll out of coronavirus vaccines, Professor Chris Whitty has warned. 

The chief medical officer said not enough Brits will have been inoculated against Covid-19 over the next three months to keep the most vulnerable out of hospitals.

He urged people not to let their guard down now a jab had been approved, saying it would be ‘really premature’ and ‘absolutely the wrong thing to do’.

The scientist warned the deep winter months were already the ‘most difficult time of year for the NHS’ without the added pressure of the viral disease. 

Professor Whitty told the Commons Health and Science Committee today: ‘For the next three months, I want to be very clear, we will not have sufficient protection.

‘We’re going through the most difficult time of year for respiratory infections and the most difficult time of year for the NHS.

‘So the idea we can suddenly stop now because the vaccine is here, that would be really premature.

‘It would be like someone giving up a marathon race at mile 16 – it would be absolutely the wrong thing to do.’ 

However, the CMO said the UK should have ‘three or four’ vaccines against Covid-19 by mid-2021, raising hopes of returning to pre-pandemic normality by summer.

The chief scientific adviser added: ‘If you look at the data around hospitality what you have is a series of environmental factors.

‘The fact people can’t wear masks, you’re meeting with lots of people who you wouldn’t normally mix with, you’re in an indoor environment, in some cases ventilation may not be adequate and so on.

‘The second area is you look at case control studies and they’re not very strong but they do suggest there is an increased risk in those settings, [and it’s] much stronger when you look at occupational risk, you can clearly see there’s a risk to those who work in hospitality, again suggesting there’s a risk there in that particular sector.

‘And then if you look at outbreak data from across the world and you see events from specific hospitality environments and you see super-spreading events.

‘So there’s a range of data but it’s just not possible to model that with any degree of accuracy and say what differences [there are between hospitality and other sectors].’

Professor Chris Whitty, who also gave evidence to the Commons committee, said: ‘When you look around the world there are very few places have been able to control things while hospitality has remained open and unaffected.’

Sir Patrick added: ‘If you look at the effect of the tiers, it was only when hospitality was shut that you could see the cases coming down.

‘Again, it’s all circumstantial evidence but it points in the direction that Chris [Whitty] alluded to and the conclusion that other countries have come to.’ 

Under the new tiered restrictions in England, hospitality is allowed to stay open until 11pm – except in Tier 3 where the sector needs to remain closed.

In Tier 2 alcohol can only be served alongside a ‘substantial meal’ and people from different households have to dine outside. 

Meanwhile, Professor Whitty warned Britain will remain in some form of lockdown until at least March despite the roll out of coronavirus vaccines.

The chief medical officer said not enough Brits will have been inoculated against Covid-19 over the next three months to keep the most vulnerable out of hospitals.

He urged people not to let their guard down now a jab had been approved, saying it would be ‘really premature’ and ‘absolutely the wrong thing to do’.

The scientist warned the deep winter months were already the ‘most difficult time of year for the NHS’ without the added pressure of the viral disease. 

Professor Whitty said: ‘For the next three months, I want to be very clear, we will not have sufficient protection.

‘We’re going through the most difficult time of year for respiratory infections and the most difficult time of year for the NHS.

‘So the idea we can suddenly stop now because the vaccine is here, that would be really premature.

‘It would be like someone giving up a marathon race at mile 16 – it would be absolutely the wrong thing to do.’ 

However, the CMO said the UK should have ‘three or four’ vaccines against Covid-19 by mid-2021, raising hopes of returning to pre-pandemic normality by summer.

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