Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord has confirmed that is to take High Court action to force a judicial review of the reopening roadmap after the government failed to provide any new evidence why indoor hospitality cannot open the same day as non-essential retail.
Mr Lord is calling for pubs and restaurants be allowed to have customers indoors from Monday, 12 April the same date as non-essential shops reopen. Earlier this month Lord and Punch Taverns founder and former director of Pizza Express Hugh Osmond sent a letter to the prime minister, they said there is no “evidence or justification” to open shops five weeks before pubs and restaurants adding that it is “plainly irrational”, and asked the government to seek specific advice from scientists “whether it is justifiable to prevent the hospitality industry opening whilst, at the same time, allowing non-essential shops to open”.
They argued that “transmission is plainly higher in non-essential shops,” and said they would pursue legal action if the government did not provide evidence to the contrary.
Mr Lord was successful in a previous challenge which forced the government to drop its ‘substantial meal’ rule. Judges ruled in favour of Lord, who brought a court case against health secretary Matt Hancock arguing that the restrictions were discriminatory towards certain sections of society.
Under previous tier rules in England, hospitality venues could only serve alcohol alongside a ‘substantial meal’, a requirement which has been dropped by the UK government in its roadmap to reopening.
In a tweet yesterday (17 March), Lord said: “The whole legal team now have everything prepped and ready. The government has until the end of today to show us the evidence. Hospitality, with measures in place, should open the same day as non-essential retail.” Just after 6pm, he followed up saying: “We’ve just received the government’s response. It has failed to introduce any new evidence as to why indoor hospitality cannot open the same day as non-essential retail. We’ll now be working through the night to take our case to the High Court for a judicial review.”