Senior figures working in the Greater Manchester night time industry have prepared a legal challenge to local lockdown restrictions.
The UK government on Monday (12th) unveiled a new three-tiered system of COVID-19 local lockdown restrictions, which will see pubs, bars and restaurants forced to shut in the most severely affected areas. Prior to the announcement, the Greater Manchester night-time economy adviser Sacha Lord stated that he would be launching a legal challenge against the restrictions. Concerns were high that Greater Manchester would be placed in the tier three category for 'very high risk' areas, though it was later announced that it would remain in tier two, meaning that pubs, bars and restaurants can remain open. Lord has said that they will ‘keep their legal challenge ready’ in the event that changes.
Lord tweeted: “We have been given no tangible scientific evidence to merit a full closure of hospitality and entertainment sectors and have been left with no option than to escalate the matter with legal action”. As reported by Manchester Evening News, Lord confirmed he had instructed lawyers "to begin a Judicial Review into the legality of the emergency restrictions due to be imposed on the hospitality and entertainment sectors."
The move has been supported by a number of organisations, including The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) and The British Beer and Pub Association. Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA said the industry had no choice but to legally challenge the government's decision, stating that the new measures would have a “catastrophic impact” on the night time economy, particularly in the wake of the “insufficient financial support package presented by the Chancellor in an attempt to sustain businesses through this period.”
Responding to this move from Greater Manchester night time industry, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden stated that there is"academic evidence" to show there is "quite a high risk associated with hospitality settings".
Appearing on Sky News today (13th October), Lord addressed the impact government restrictions on night time venues has had on freelancers, who have been unable to work in their sector since March and who recently faced a substantial decrease in COVID-19 benefits from the government. Speaking to Kay Burley about the possibility of his legal challenge going to court, he said: ““I don’t need a legal team, I can walk into the High Court and win that myself.”
Lord's legal challenge comes after the owner of LGBTQ+G-A-Y, Jeremy Joseph, launched a legal challenge against the government's 10pm curfew, stating, "The hospitality industry is being made a scapegoat. There is no sense or logic to this curfew & no publicly available scientific data that supports the curfew.