Loophole means you can drink in a pub after 10pm curfew – but only at one place

A legal loophole means people can drink in a pub after the 10pm curfew – but only at one place in the country.

The Hope and Champion, a Wetherspoon boozer which is deemed part of a service station off the M40, is allowed to stay open and serve punters later.

This is because it is classed as providing an essential service as it sells food and drink to motorists, so isn’t bound by the rule – although it only stays open until 11pm.

And it means the watering hole, part of Beaconsfield Services in Bucks, is the only one which is legally open after 10pm, according to the The Sun.

Punter Graham Briggs, 28, told the paper: "When I saw the sign on the door saying open until 11pm I thought it was a mistake.

"But then the barman told me it was perfectly legal to have a drink here after the curfew."

The pub, which opened in 2014, is the only one at a service station in the country.

A spokesman for the pub chain said: "The pub can remain open until 11pm throughout the week because it is part of a service station.

"There is a 100-bedroom hotel close to the pub and the majority of customers using the pub at night are guests staying at the hotel who want something to eat and drink.

"All regulations around Covid — such as ordering off an app, table service and social distancing — remain the same at all times."

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The 10pm curfew, which affects all pubs, bars and restaurants, was imposed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week in order to tackle the rising coronavirus cases amid fears of a second wave.

But it has come in for widespread criticism for forcing crowds to all pour out onto the streets at closing time and get onto packed public transport.

Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin insisted pubs were not behind the rise and blasted the curfew as a stunt to be "seen to be doing something".

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Critics have said it could make the situation worse by encouraging revellers to have after-hours house parties instead, where social distancing is harder to maintain.

Experts have said it was always “predictable” it would lead to crowds forming while local leaders have blasted the "shambolic" rule.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham said: "My gut feeling is that this curfew is doing more harm than good."

Liverpool's mayor Joe Anderson claimed it is "making things more dangerous".

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