The night-time economy advisor for Greater Manchester has stepped up his legal action after the government missed their deadline.
A couple of weeks ago Sacha Lord announced that his legal team were looking into the possibility of challenging the government on its plans to open non-essential retail before hospitality. This was off the back of a successful legal case he sought that agreed that the serving of alcohol only with food was ‘arguably discriminatory’ which led to the government removing this clause in their re-opening plans.
A few days ago Sacha announced that he had teamed up with Hugh Osmond, the founder of Punch Taverns, to challenge the government’s plans to open non-essential retail on April 12th but only allow outdoor opening for hospitality until May 19th, 5 weeks later.
They wrote to the government asking them to provide evidence as to why hospitality cannot open indoors at the same time as non-essential retail. The deadline for the government to provide this new evidence was yesterday and according to Sacha they failed:
‘The government has failed to introduce any new evidence as to why indoor hospitality cannot open on 12 April alongside non-essential retail and we will now be taking this case to the High Court for an expedited judicial review.
While we’re pleased beer gardens will be reopening from 12 April, many venues don’t have the space or financial capabilities to have an outdoor area, and as we know very well in Manchester, the weather is not always kind.
Operators have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds creating indoor Covid secure environments, as advised by ministers themselves, and we firmly believe these regulated, ventilated venues have much safer measures and greater social distancing in place than retail stores.
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.”
This comes off the back of a Parliamentary Select Committee report who agreed earlier this week that the government had not provided enough evidence to back up their decisions on hospitality.
Sacha Lord has succeeded once already in a court case against the government with the substantial meal case so fingers crossed he makes it two for two with his latest attempt. If so I can imagine a whole raft of ‘Lord’ based cocktail puns hitting menus up and down the country.