My Lords, the regulations related to hospitality do not make sense. Other noble Lords have pointed out the illogicalities, particularly around dancing. The Minister insists that consultation has driven government thinking. Consultation with the restaurant and pub business would have told the Government that the 10 pm curfew could not be justified. There has been little evidence of scientific reason behind it. Restaurants practising social distancing could survive if they were able to do two sittings at dinner, but the 10 pm curfew makes that impossible.
Publicans have to watch their customers leave and head straight to the supermarket or off-licence to buy more alcohol, which they can then drink outdoors without following any social distancing rules at all. Local authority leaders have pleaded with the Government for changes to this legislation on drink sales but have had no success. The regulations are not being respected because people do not understand government thinking.
Are we really facing an appalling rise in Covid cases, as the scientists say? Even Health Minister Nadine Dorries has warned that our intensive care beds could be overrun within 10 days if the current rate of increase in Covid cases continues. If that is the case, why are we debating these already outdated regulations? We are consistently told that the Government are following the science, but at what distance?
With a virus that spreads in this way, we need immediate action. It will be painful but, without decisive action, the long-term pain will be even greater. If we need more draconian measures, let us have them now, when they might stave off the problem, not when it is too late. The leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer, wrote this morning that the current dithering is causing confusion.