'No clear justification' for pub reopening date

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Legal challenge: it is unfair that indoor hospitality cannot reopen at the same time as non-essential retail, according to a duo of trade leaders (image: Getty/Douglas_Freer)
Legal challenge: it is unfair that indoor hospitality cannot reopen at the same time as non-essential retail, according to a duo of trade leaders (image: Getty/Douglas_Freer)

Related tags: lockdown, coronavirus, Beer

The Government will be taken to court over its reopening date for indoor hospitality.

Night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord and Punch founder Hugh Osmond will legally challenge the Government’s decision to fully reopen pubs weeks after non-essential retail.

The duo wrote to the Government on 12 March demanding “evidence or justification for the prioritisation of non-essential retail over hospitality" by Wednesday 17 March.

The Government failed to declare any new evidence to justify the delayed reopening of pubs and restaurants, according to the pair. 

The case will now move to the High Court for an expedited judicial review. 

Sacha Lord said while it was good news beer gardens can reopen from 12 April, many businesses don't have the space or financial ability for outdoor space. "As we know very well in Manchester, the weather is not always kind," he added.

“Operators have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds creating indoor Covid secure environments, as advised by ministers themselves," Lord said, "and we firmly believe these regulated, ventilated venues have much safer measures and greater social distancing in place than retail stores."

No clear justification

Lord said: “This is not a hospitality versus retail argument, but Government decisions must operate on a level playing field and be supported by evidence. We currently see no clear justification for the delay."

Lord took the Government to court over its ‘substantial meal’ rule which required English pubs to serve food with alcohol during the coronavirus tiered system last year.

Judges in the court case The Queen (OAO Sacha Lord and others) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care​ ruled the policy was arguably discriminatory towards certain sections of society.

Pubs will be permitted to reopen indoors from 17 May at the earliest, as per the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.​ Non-essential retail businesses will be allowed to reopen from 12 April, with outdoor hospitality, providing the country meets certain criteria in tackling the pandemic.

Related topics: Legislation

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