Hotel bosses have lost their legal battle to force the British government to bring forward the date for reopening pubs and restaurants inside.
A High Court judge has dismissed the attempt to reopen the halls as “academic” because the hearing is unlikely to take place until May 17, when pubs and restaurants in England could welcome patrons inside.
The lawsuit against the government was brought by Sacha Lord, Greater Manchester’s nightlife advisor and co-founder of the Parklife festival, and Hugh Osmond, founder of Punch Taverns and former boss of Pizza Express.
Pubs and restaurants in England have been allowed to welcome customers again from April 12 after a nationwide lockdown, but only in outdoor spaces. The government has set a timetable to allow hotel guests to move inside England from May 17, although restrictions will apply. Other countries in the UK have varying hours for the reopening.
At the High Court last month, Lord and Osmond argued that there was no justification or scientific basis for domestic hospitality to be kept closed for five weeks after non-essential retailers in England were allowed to serve customers indoors from April 12.
They said about 60% of hospitality venues did not have outdoor space.
Responding to Judge Julian Knowles’ ruling, Osmond said: “This case is not ‘academic’ for an industry that loses £ 200million every day it remains closed, for the more than 3million people who work in our industry, or for the tens of thousands of businesses, suppliers, owners and contractors bankrupted by government action. “
He added: “Our lawsuit gave them a chance to fight, but again in 2021, the strong arm of the state came to crush hope and aspiration.”
The two men said the judgment was accompanied by a report from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), released on April 30, which stated that the risks of “transmission in hospitality, retail and leisure are relatively low ”.
In the report, which looked at transmission of Covid-19 in hospitality, retail and leisure, advisers said there had been a total of 226 outbreaks in pubs and restaurants in England since start of the pandemic.
However, the total rose to 343 when fast food outlets, cafes, bars, member clubs and catered events were included, according to data, which runs through February 2021.
The results were discussed at a Sage meeting early last month.
Lord and Osmond said it was not clear when Sage’s report was drafted or submitted to ministers, but added that it was not disclosed by the defense during court proceedings.
Osmond said: “When a crucial report from Sage is ignored, it goes far beyond caution, and questions must be asked as to when this advice was sought and why this important evidence was not. disclosed. “
Lord said there were thousands of pubs, restaurants and bars whose owners and employees were struggling financially because of the “unfair” restrictions.
Both men said they decided there was not enough time to challenge the decision until May 17, although Osmond said he was considering other legal options in connection with the case.