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High Court dismisses early hospitality opening

Published:  04 May, 2021

Sacha Lord, the night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, has expressed “disappointment” as the legal battle to allow pubs and restaurants to reopen early was dismissed in the High Court.

The judicial review was taken against the government by Lord and Hugh Osmond, the founder of Punch Taverns, over the lack of evidence for delaying reopening of the hospitality industry for five weeks after non-essential retail.

A High Court judge dismissed the attempt to reopen hospitality venues for inside trading before the 17 May as “academic” because the hearing would be unlikely to take place before venues are allowed to reopen. 

However, in a tweet posted this morning Lord accused the government of using delaying tactics and refusing to mediate. He said that while he was disappointed with the outcome the legal action had “shone a light” on the hospitality sector and the unfair recovery map. 

He added legal challenges had achieved ‘significant outcomes’ with the abolition of the substantial meal requirement, while lobbying had helped to remove the 10pm curfew. 

He said: “In our legal action, 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.”

On Twitter Osmond also accused the government of delaying tactics.

He said: “After unexplained two week delay, High Court ruled our claim ‘academic’ as would not be heard before 17 May. After the ruling, SAGE quietly released a report saying no evidence that UK hospitality venues were ever a major risk. A cover up.”

Lord revealed plans to take the government to court in March this year after asking for new evidence why indoor hospitality could be reopened along with retail. Osmond joined Lord in backing his legal action to force a judicial review of the roadmap.