Government loses bid to delay High Court challenge from hospitality sector

Government loses bid to delay High Court challenge from hospitality sector over letting non-essential shops open before pubs and restaurants can serve food and drink indoors.

A judge today threw out Matt Hancock’s appeal and sided with two businessmen, who are demanding pubs and restaurants be allowed to reopen indoors sooner.

Former Pizza Express director Hugh Osmond and Manchester’s nighttime economy manager Sacha Lord claim there is no evidence for why non-essential shops can open on April 12 while indoor hospitality must remain shut until May 17.

They are seeking a judge’s ruling and requested the case be hurried through the courts because time is of the essence.

Mr Lord said: “The government has continuously failed to introduce any new evidence as to why indoor hospitality cannot open on 12 April alongside non-essential retail, or any justification for their prioritisation of retail over hospitality.”

Mr Lord – Darren Robinson Photography

The pair said around 60% of hospitality venues do not have outdoor space so cannot open on 12 April, when outdoor hospitality can open, and that many “will cease trading as a result”.

The judge said: “I accept that there is a need to expedite consideration of this matter if the challenge is not to be rendered academic by passage of time.”

A government spokesman said: “We have been clear that we want this lockdown to be the last and to achieve that our approach to cautiously easing restrictions is informed by the best available science and the latest clinical evidence.

“The government has supported the hospitality sector throughout this global pandemic, including our new £5 billion Restart Grant scheme, extending the furlough scheme and the VAT cut, and providing 750,000 businesses in hospitality and other sectors with business rates relief.”


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