Police and courts could be ‘overwhelmed’ by drinkers and landlords who flout Boris Johnson’s ban on pubs, says legal expert as coronavirus rules destroy the ‘ancient and inalienable rights’ of Britons
- Boris Johnson tonight declared that all pubs will close tonight and remain shut
- But if landlords keep pouring, officials could be ‘overwhelmed’ by disobedience
- A lawyer told MailOnline: ‘If there was a lack of observance then police would have a hell of job servicing all these notices and courts would be overwhelmed’
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Boris Johnson’s ban on pubs could overwhelm the police and the courts if unruly drinkers and landlords decide to flout the new coronavirus rules.
The Prime Minister announced tonight: ‘We’re taking away the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub, and I can understand how people feel about that … It’s a huge wrench.’
He said that pubs, as well as restaurants and cafes, were being asked ‘to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow.’
Downing Street’s new plan to curb the spread of the coronavirus could, however, present new challenges for an already strained police force and criminal justice system.
Martin Jones, partner at Hugh James law firm, told the MailOnline: ‘If there was a lack of observance then the police would have a hell of job servicing all these notices and the magistrates’ courts would be overwhelmed.’
People in a pub in Westminster tonight after Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson annouced that cafes, pubs and restaurants across the country to close on Friday night to help stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said at Downing Street tonight: ‘We’re taking away the ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go to the pub, and I can understand how people feel about that … It’s a huge wrench’
However, Mr Jones added: ‘My guess is that probably that these are exceptional times and there will be overwhelming parliamentary will to pass new law.
‘So a special law could be passed very very quickly.’
As it stands the authorities have at their disposal section 80 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014.
The usual purpose of the legislation is to allow pubs to be hauled into court for offences such as having drug dealing on the premises or for noise complaints.
Mr Jones said that in these extraordinary times the magistrates would not hesitate to back the police and impose the closure orders if landlords and patrons decided to ignore the government’s rules.
‘The notice would have short-term effect and a Magistrates’ Court could then close the premises for three months if satisfied they would otherwise cause a ‘nuisance’.’ Mr Jones added.
The Gunnersbury on Chiswick High Road in London tonight. One reveller told the MailOnline: ‘F**k it, I’m in the pub man! Here till it closes!’
The Prime Minister effectively closed down the United Kingdom on Friday, ordering pubs, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and gyms to shut their doors in a bid to slow down the accelerating spread of the coronavirus.
As the coronavirus outbreak sweeps across the world, governments, companies and investors are grappling with the biggest public health crisis since the 1918 influenza pandemic, panicked populations and imploding financial markets.
The UK so far has 3,983 confirmed cases of coronavirus, after 66,976 people were tested, though the government’s scientists say it is raging across London, partly as some people are not obeying government advice to isolate.
At total of 177 people with the virus have died so far across the country.
Mr Johnson said pubs, restaurants, theatres, nigthtclubs, cinemas and gyms and leisure centres were being asked to close on Friday night and to stay shut indefinitely.
‘We are telling cafes, bars and restaurants to close tonight as soon as they reasonably can and not to open tomorrow,’ Mr Johnson told reporters in Downing Street. ‘Though to be clear, they can continue to provide takeout services.
‘Some people may of course be tempted to go out tonight, and I say to those people, “please don’t,”‘ Mr Johnson said.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak launched a gigantic stimulus package to stabilise Britain’s virus-hit economy on Friday, including the government paying the wages of workers up and down the country.
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