07:30 GMT25 October 2020
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    A Parliamentary spokesman said all but one of the nearly 30 bars in the Palace of Westminster had stopped serving alcohol by 10pm since new rules came in last Thursday, although catering would still be available for MPs and staff working late.

    British MPs will no longer be able to celebrate winning a vote with a late-night drink in the famous Strangers' bar until the COVID-19 pub curfew is lifted.

    Parliamentary authorities have bowed to pressure from members and asked the nearly 30 licensed bars and restaurants inside the Palace of Westminster to stop serving alcohol after 10pm, in line with the rest of the country.

    The bars are exempt from the government's new rules on pub and restaurant hours, brought in last Thursday in response to a rise in coronavirus cases, because they are technically workplace canteens, which can stay open so staff working late can have a meal.

    "Alcohol will not be sold after 10pm anywhere on the Parliamentary estate", A Parliamentary spokesman said on Monday.

    He insisted no alcohol had been served after 10pm in any of the House of Commons bars and cafes since the restrictions came onto force last Thursday. He added that one bar in the House of Lords had been serving drinks later than that, but would no longer do so. 

    But the spokesman said the catering facilities would stay open "in line with the government's industry guidance… to serve food for those still working and to support social distancing".

    The apparent U-turn came after MPs attacked criticised the double standards of their bars staying open when others had to shut. Tory George Freeman said it risked bringing Parliament "into disrepute", while Labour shadow treasury secretary Wes Streeting said the arrangements "had to change immediately".

    Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner tweeted that "We should get our own house in order before demanding others follow regulations, people are fed up with this nonsense.

    Labour MP Sarah Owen and the SNP's Anne McLaughlin both called the exemption "ridiculous" 

    But Conservative MP Tim Loughton said the Commons bars had been closed since March and the public had more opportunity to go to the pub that parliamentarians.


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    curfew, coronavirus, COVID-19, UK Parliament
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