Members of the UK hospitality sector are planning legal action against the government to challenge current and upcoming restrictions.
Pubs and restaurants have already been struggling under the mandatory 10pm curfew rule and are forecasting a dire outlook if Westminster forces closures altogether.
READ: “Eat out to help out” failed to arrest decline in hospitality sector’s sales in the third quarter
On Monday afternoon Boris Johnson is expected to announce a three-tier lockdown system based on individual regions’ infection levels.
Areas in the north of England are set to be deemed as ‘high risk’ meaning pubs, bars, casinos and gyms will have to close. The Times reported restaurants will be allowed to stay open as Westminster is focusing on wet-led establishments.
The move could affect 7,000 pubs in the North East, Lancashire, Merseyside, West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, which correspond to 20% of all UK sites, according to real estate adviser Altus Group.
In case the measures hit Manchester, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord said he will launch a judicial review.
Operators and employees are at breaking point. This isn’t just about finances, this is about their mental health. pic.twitter.com/Pj15xPLkkr
— Sacha Lord (@Sacha_Lord) October 12, 2020
Industry body Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said the sector was left with “no other option” after weeks of stressing there is no scientific evidence backing closing hospitality venues to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“These new measures will have a catastrophic impact on late night businesses, and are exacerbated further by an insufficient financial support package presented by the chancellor in an attempt to sustain businesses through this period,” NTIA boss Michael Kill said.
“This next round of restrictions are hugely disproportionate and unjust, with no scientific rationale or correlation to Public Health England transmission rates, when compared to other key environments.”
Last week, London club chain G-A-Y announced a pre-action protocol for judicial review for the 10pm curfew.
However, Simon Elcock, Partner at city law firm DMH Stallard said these early stage claims usually face significant hurdles and may not pass the ‘permission stage’ to move into court.
“Perhaps this challenge is as much about keeping this issue high on the agenda for both the public and the government, as it is about the legal position and prospects of success,” he commented.
According to the NTIA, the sector accounts for almost 8% of the UK’s employment and brings in 6% of annual revenue, amounting to £66bn.
But the latest Office for National Statistics survey shows that 61% of businesses in accommodation and food services saw lower profits in September, while almost a quarter of them said profits more than halved.
Published at Mon, 12 Oct 2020 12:51:00 +0000-Coronavirus: Frustrated hospitality sector takes legal action against Westminster’s restrictions