Hospitality Sector Threatens Legal Action Over 4-Week Extension

Over 45 hospitality, tourism, weddings and events companies/bodies have jointly written to the Prime Minister to threaten legal action should the July reopening date face further delay.

he open letter, led by Manchester’s night-time economy adviser, calls for sector specific support following the four week extension to the Covid-19 roadmap out of lockdown which Boris Johnson announced last week.

The hospitality sector estimates that the extension will cost over £3 million in sales and are urging the Government to reconsider their decision to withhold financial aid, the letter has been signed by industry names including Chris Jowsey, CEO of pub chain Admiral Taverns, Peter Marks, CEO, Rekom Nightclubs; Michael Kill, CEO, Night Time Industries Association, William Lees-Jones, MD, JW Lees Brewery; Rob Pitcher, CEO Revolution Bars; Harry Hastings, CEO, Ocean Holidays; the UK Weddings Taskforce and the Wedding Venues Support Group.

From July operators will have to contribute 10% of wages to furloughed staff and business rates relief papers from 100% to 66%, Sacha Lord has described the reduction in support is a clear and inevitable crisis about to take place.

He added “we demand absolute confirmation we will reopen on July 19 and will need urgent financial support to give businesses the best possible chance to survive until then”

The letter reads:

We wish to put you on notice that Mr Lord and the representatives with whom he is in discussion are jointly considering taking legal action to challenge the government, should the easing of restrictions fail to take place on 19 July as promised.”

“All of these industries have suffered enormously due to the repeated closures and reopenings, the ongoing lack of certainty, draconian social distancing measures and the illogical rules implemented and then removed, as areas have grappled with the constantly changing tier systems, and the local and national lockdowns.”

“The restrictions with which these businesses have had to comply have often been entirely illogical and arbitrary in nature, and demonstrate a complete lack of understanding of how their various sectors function.”

“It has been impossible for the affected sectors to operate anywhere near their pre-Covid levels, and for each day that the Covid restrictions remain in place, sectors such as hospitality … continue to suffer enormous losses.”

“The treatment of these sectors’ employees and business owners is deplorable and cannot continue. Industries such as Hospitality, Events, Exhibitions and Travel simply cannot endure further hardship.”

Sacha Lord, who successfully pushed the Government to drop the 10pm curfew and substantial meal restriction, commented, “As of the end of the month, we’ll not only see a 10% increase in furlough contributions, but the relief rate for hospitality drops from 100% to 66%. Factor in that huge parts of the nightlife sector are not even open yet, and we have a clear and inevitable crisis about to take place. We demand absolute confirmation we will reopen on the 19 July and we need urgent financial support to give businesses the best possible chance to survive until then.”

Supporting the move, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said, “The eleventh hour delay to reopening announced by the Prime Minister on Monday was yet another devastating blow to nightlife businesses, and the Government then rubbed salt into the wounds by indicating that support programmes like furlough and business rates relief would not be extended. Our sector simply cannot countenance another delay. That is why today – along with a number of trade bodies and businesses from other affected sectors, we are putting the Government on notice that we intend to take legal action should they deviate from the extended roadmap with full reopening on July 19th.”

In May Mr Lord has lost a legal challenge against the Government’s decision to delay the reopening of indoor hospitality spaces.

Mr Lord, alongside Punch Taverns boss Hugh Osmond, had been battling for pubs and restaurants to be able to open inside sooner than the current roadmap allows, however the High Court ruled in favour of the Government saying that Covid-19 justifies a cautious approach.