The case against the Government brought by Sacha Lord, the Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester and restaurateur High Osmond, had argued that there was no justification or scientific basis for indoor hospitality to remain closed while other businesses such as non-essential retail have been permitted to resume trading. However, the High Court has ruled in favour of the Government.
In the overview, the Honourable Mr Justice Julian Knowles dismissed the call for Judicial Review to bring forward indoor reopenings as ‘academic’, noting the necessary hearing would unlikely take place before 17 May, the date by which indoor hospitality is scheduled to reopen.
The judgment came just hours before a SAGE report emerged, indicating that ministers had been advised that “eating out in any food outlet or restaurant was not associated with increased odds” of catching Covid.
The report revealed that there had been only 226 outbreaks of Coronavirus in hospitality venues since pandemic began leading it to describe the risk of transmission in the sector as being “relatively low”.
Osmond has described the timing of the release of the SAGE report as “a cover up” but says having spoken with his legal team he will not be challenging the decision. He will, however, be reviewing other legal options, he says.
Lord has also expressed his disappointment with the ruling, saying that the Government had “stalled, delayed and refused to mediate”.
In a statement he said: “We are disappointed with the outcome. While this fight has always been an uphill battle, made harder by the government’s delaying tactics and refusal to mediate, we are pleased that the case has shone a light on the hospitality sector and the unfair and unequal guidance within the recovery roadmap.
“Through our legal challenges, we have achieved significant outcomes for the sector, abolishing the substantial meal requirement with our previous court action and lobbying hard to remove with the 10pm curfew. Both of these results have had a hugely positive impact on operators nationwide who have been unfairly treated throughout this crisis and undoubtedly saved many jobs throughout the industry.
“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.”