Pub bosses’ fury as Boris Johnson plans Northern shutdown because Covid is ‘holding a gun to his head’


BORIS Johnson faced a growing backlash over his plan to close Northern pubs and restaurants despite a series of grim warnings from government advisers.

The looming restrictions come as Professor Chris Whitty warned of more than 300 intensive care patients in just 21 days from now unless urgent action is taken to stop the spread.

Pubs like this one is Liverpool could soon be forced to close

And Sage adviser Professor John Edmunds said that coronavirus is “holding a gun to the PM’s head”.

Downing Street dispatched Chief Medical Officer Prof Whitty to give a private briefing to Northern MPs to quell a Commons lockdown revolt.

He shared unpublished data with the representatives that claimed pubs and restaurants were to blame for 30 per cent of recent virus cases in a bid to gain their support for tougher measures.

But pub bosses warned hospitality would not survive another shutdown without a major cash injection from the Treasury.

The British Beer & Pub Association said any stricter lockdown measures in the North could “destroy” pubs in the region and pleaded for a bailout if it happens.

HOAR can reveal Chancellor Rishi Sunak will spend the weekend finalising a “toolbox of different measures” to help workers and businesses hit by the Government’s planned lockdown next week.

Pub bosses have hit back at Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty

But Mr Johnson was facing growing mutiny over his plans — and, worryingly, newly elected MPs in the regions broke cover to question the logic of next week’s proposed move.

Red Wall poster girl Dehenna Davison warned of the plight of a landlord in her seat.

The Bishop Auckland MP said: “Last weekend he told me rather than his usual Saturday take of £5,000 to £6,000, he took only £128 all day — not even enough to cover his entire staffing bill.

She added: “Between the ten o’clock curfew and the lack of households being able to meet, I’m really concerned these restrictions without additional financial support may have the overall impact of closing pubs not just for lockdown but for good.”

The rebellion was fuelled by a Cabinet minister admitting local lockdowns are not working.


Ahead of a feared “blowout” weekend before restrictions come into place, Communities boss Robert Jenrick confessed measures so far “haven’t yet seen the impact that we would like to see.”

And Mr Johnson’s close ally and former Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry upped his opposition to sweeping restrictions for the region and demanded urg- ent clarity from No10.

He blasted: “At the moment, some areas of the North are being kept in a sort of ‘Hotel California’ lockdown with no route out.

“In the name of Covid, our once inalienable rights to mix with our family and friends or even to go about our ordinary lives has been stripped away and handed back to the state.”

He begged: “My message to No10 is clear, end the confusion and let my people go!

But record numbers of Brits were confirmed positive on Thursday, with 17,540 new infections. The figure was 6,914 a week earlier.

And NHS data revealed more than 600 Brits were admitted to hospital on Sunday — the largest number since early June.

There were also 77 coronavirus deaths reported on Thursday, the highest daily figure for more than three months.

Boris Johnson faced a growing backlash over his plan to close Northern pubs and restaurants

Government adviser Professor Edmunds said coronavirus is now “holding a gun to Boris Johnson’s head”.

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies member said that local measures were not working to stem the tide of ­infections.

Prof Edmunds, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warned the virus is “still a killer” and said a second national lockdown is needed.

He said it would be better for jobs and the nation’s health to “take the pain now” rather than wait until it is out of control.

Prof Edmunds added: “Early intervention is good because you can then do it quickly, harshly and start to ease it.

“And that is much better for the epidemiology and, I think, for the economy as well.

“Late intervention, when things have got really out of hand, is bad for everything.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the country had reached a “perilous moment” in the course of the pandemic.


He told hospital bosses he is now “very worried” about the rise of Covid — particularly in the North, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the NHS Providers annual summit, he said: “Hospitalisations in the North West are doubling approximately every fortnight.

“They have risen by 57 per cent in the last week. We’re seeing hospitalisations in the over-60s rising sharply and the number of deaths from coronavirus rising.”

Mr Sunak is expected to unveil a new package of financial support.

Sources confirmed it will include wage support for workers hit by the shutdown of pubs, bars and restaurants but insisted Mr Sunak will not be extending the furlough scheme beyond the end of October.

A source said: “We stepped in before when it was necessary to provide businesses with the reassurance that we will look after them and we will do that again.”

‘Please give us back lives we knew’

By Jake Berry, Tory MP for Rossendale

I HAVE seen first-hand how whole communities across the North are collectively scratching their heads trying to make sense of the confusing hodgepodge of Covid rules.

This confusing mess needs to change, says Mr Berry

The rules that we debated have been changed 18 time in recent weeks. MPs are struggling to keep up with the ever-changing restrictions that have baffled the North.

I’ve spoken with Northern council leaders who admit that their officials can’t keep track of the changes, let alone effectively communicate them to the local community.

I had a letter from a ten-year-old in Rossendale asking if she is allowed to play with her friends after school — teachers say she can’t but her parents say she can.

The answer is no but I had to look it up on the Government website.

I’ve just read an email from a lady who wants to visit her terminally ill friend but can’t work out if it’s allowed and is terrified of getting arrested by a Covid marshal.

This confusing mess needs to change so people can start to take responsibility for keeping themselves safe within the guidance rather having to guess which rules affect them.

Us Northerners want to play our part in beating this disease but we need a national set of guidance that is clear, proportionate and simple.

Guidance should ideally cover the whole of the UK, which would require consent from the devolved administrations. And it should clearly set out, using local data, when areas would come in and out of each category.

At the moment, some areas of the North are being kept in a sort of “Hotel California” lockdown with no route out. In the name of Covid, our once inalienable rights to mix with our family and friends or even to go about our ordinary lives has been stripped away and handed back to the state.

These freedoms, many dating to the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215, have been hard won and hard fought for over centuries and have often been ripped from the powerful in bloodless revolutions.

I want a guarantee that our ancient rights and freedoms will be returned to us intact.

It’s time to throw off the manacles of state control and let the British people follow a common-sense approach to beating this virus. My message to No10 is clear — end the confusion and let my people go!


GOT a story? RING HOAR on 0207 782 4104 or WHATSAPP on 07423720250 or EMAIL [email protected]