The bars and restaurants on the parliamentary estate will not be subject to the same restrictions as other hospitality venues, The Times reports.
Initial reports suggested that parliament’s bars would still be serving alcohol after 10pm, despite the nationwide curfew for hospitality venues between 10pm and 5am, as they are officially considered to be workplace canteens.
However, the government has since confirmed that no alcohol will be served on the parliamentary estate after 10pm.
Other restrictions and social distancing measures in place in the bars will also be reduced.
Why will MPs be exempt?
Parliament’s bars will technically be exempt from the curfew and further restrictions because they are considered to be workplace canteens, under coronavirus regulations.
According to the legislation which Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last week, “Workplace canteens may remain open where there is no practical alternative for staff at that workplace to obtain food.”
Though a No 10 spokesperson confirmed earlier that alcohol will not be served after 10pm, bar staff and customers at Westminster won’t have to follow the recently ramped-up rules around face coverings that have been introduced for other hospitality venues, and there’s no requirement for customers to supply contact details.
It has been reported that trade unions representing parliament’s bar staff are considering action as they feel their members are being put at risk due to the exemptions in their workplace.
Are there any coronavirus restrictions in place?
There have been a number of safety measures implemented across Westminster since the outbreak of the pandemic, including the installation of perspex screens and “enhanced cleaning regimes” in areas where MPs congregate.
Speaking to The Times, a spokeswoman for the House of Commons said, “We continue to follow social distancing and cleaning measures as a Covid-secure workplace in order to reduce the transmission of the disease through social distancing signage, one way systems, socially distanced seating arrangements, contactless payments, marshalling and additional cleaning.”
There are around 30 bars dotted around the whole parliamentary estate, which serve MPs, their staff, members of the press and visitors.
The prices of food and drink, including alcohol, in these establishments is effectively subsidised, costing the taxpayer several million pounds per year on average.