Shops should be banned from selling alcohol past 9pm to stop people rushing to buy drinks after they are kicked out of pubs, Andy Burnham has sad.
The Greater Manchester mayor said the new 10pm curfew on bars was “doing more harm than good” as people were now holding house parties instead.
“Perhaps if there was a 9pm curfew on sale of alcohol in supermarkets and shops, that would prevent the rush to shops once the pubs have closed,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday morning.
“I received reports that the supermarkets were absolutely packed out to the rafters with people gathering.”
He added: “My gut feeling is that this curfew is doing more harm than good. It creates an incentive for people to gather in the street or, more probably, to gather in the home.
“That is the opposite of what local restrictions here are trying to do.”
But health minister Helen Whately defended the government’s curfew rule, which came into force nationally on Thursday.
“As people drink more they tend to socially distance less,” she told the BBC. “So one approach to keeping people socially distancing is to limit the amount of time that people are in places where they are drinking.”
Police Federation chair John Apter warned on Monday morning that there were not enough officers to disperse people gathering in streets outside pubs.
“You might only have one or two people [officers] in a busy high street at 10pm when hundreds and hundreds of people are coming out onto the streets,” he told Today.
“My colleagues will do the best they can to encourage and coerce people to move on. But it’s really difficult.
“And all you need is a hostile group who turns against those officers, and the resources for that town centre, that city centre, are swallowed up dealing with that one incident.”
Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, on Sunday told the Andrew Marr Show there was “definitely science” behind the 10pm curfew policy.
It came after infectious disease modelling expert professor Graham Medley said on Saturday he did not recall the curfew being discussed by the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
People across England will be legally required to self-isolate from this week if they test positive for coronavirus or are contacted by the test and trace service.
If they do not, they risk being hit with new fines starting at £1,000 and increasing up to £10,000 for repeat offenders or serious breaches.