Hospitality bosses have lost their legal battle with the courts to reopen venues for dining indoors earlier than May 17.
Greater Manchester’s night time economy advisor Sacha Lord took his case for reopening hospitality at the same time as essential retail to the courts in March, calling for the government to provide specific evidence as to why the sector wasn’t being permitted to trade indoors from April.
After multiple delays, the judge yesterday ruled in favour of the government and agreed that hospitality venues in England should stay closed to indoor diners until at least May 17.
Lord, who was joined in his fight by former Pizza Express Hugh Osmond earlier this year, said he was disappointed by the outcome.
A statement read: “While this fight has always been an uphill battle, made harder by the government’s delaying tactics and refusal to mediate, we are pleased the case has shone a light on the hospitality sector and the unfair and unequal guidance within the recovery roadmap.
“In our legal battle, we have sent a clear, strong message direct to the heart of government. We will continue to advocate for those who have been unfairly impacted throughout this crisis and despite the outcome, we will continue to hold the government to account and demand evidence based decisions, rather than those drafted without detailed analysis or based on bias or whim.”
The government has insisted the lockdown easing must be cautious if it is to be irreversible, adding that it will driven by “data and not dates”.
May 17 will see hospitality venues in England able to reopen to customers indoors.
In Scotland, pubs and restaurants are already allowed to open indoors until 20:00 – but alcohol can only be served to those seated outside.
It is hoped that venues in Wales will be permitted to reopen on May 17 also, while in Northern Ireland, hospitality May reopen on May 24.
Tweeting this morning following the ruling, Lord added:
“The High Court have ruled in favour of the Gov’t.
“They stalled, delayed and refused to mediate.
“The Judge agreed the clock had run down.
“The Gov’t FAILED to disclose a SAGE report, confirming that during the whole pandemic, only 226 cases were associated to Hospitality.”