Welsh Government Faces Legal Challenge Over Reopening

The Welsh government has officially been served with a legal challenge over the re-opening of hospitality.

The challenge, following a similar challenge in England claims it is unfair that other sectors such as non-essential retail are allowed to re-open ahead of hospitality.

Matt Connolly owner of the Sticky Fingers Street Food restaurant in Roath has instructed law firm JMW Solicitors, who have launched a Judicial Review against the Welsh Government’s rules on indoor hospitality, and seeks a reopening date. The Welsh government has until April 14 to respond.

Presently, the Welsh government has set a provisional date of 26 April for the reopening of outdoor hospitality, and has said it would “consider enabling” indoor service after 17 May.

Mr Connolly is also requesting that the Welsh government provide evidence and an explanation of its reasoning for keeping hospitality closed.

On Facebook a “Sticky Fingers” post said: ” This morning (April8)we have given Welsh Gov formal notice for a proposed claim for judicial review.

It was not a decision taken lightly. All we’re asking for is evidence to support continued closure of hospitality, a fair and level playing field with other businesses and clarity for the future. “

“The High Court is an expensive place and we’re willing to go there, but we’re hopeful of mediation before it gets that far.”

Mr Connolly said: “The failure to provide any clarity for the opening of indoor hospitality is a massive blow to the industry – we can’t plan without a date to work toward. At the same time, we are seeing other sectors that are arguably riskier opening-up without issue – we just want to be treated fairly.

“We have invested huge amounts of money and time in making indoor hospitality safe, from PPE and safety screens through to extra staff to manage table service. We believe we should be permitted to open our doors again from 12 April in line with non-essential retail. If that isn’t possible, at least let us see the evidence used to make that decision – thousands of livelihoods are at stake.

“It has been an incredibly difficult 12 months for the hospitality industry – the last thing we need is more uncertainty.”

Oliver Wright, partner at JMW Solicitors, said the Welsh government was taking a “disproportionate” approach to restricting hospitality’s reopening compared to other areas of the economy.

He added: “It’s a decision taken in the absence of any apparent facts or evidence.”

In England JMW and Sacha Lord already forced the UK government to abandon its ‘substantial meal’ requirement, and this week had its challenge on reopening accelerated through the courts.