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Pub group plans legal challenge over Boris Johnson’s refusal to let them open up sooner

Pub group plans legal challenge over Boris Johnson’s refusal to let them open up sooner

  • Boris Johnson facing challenge over refusing to let pubs fully open up in April
  • Hospitality trade leaders said going to court over the ‘plainly irrational’ decision
  • Pubs and restaurants will be able to serve customers outdoors from April 12

Boris Johnson is facing a legal challenge over refusing to let pubs and restaurants fully open up next month.

Hospitality trade leaders announced they were going to court over the ‘plainly irrational’ decision to restrict pubs and cafes to outdoor opening only from April 12 while allowing non-essential shops to reopen to customers.

Hugh Osmond, founder of Punch Taverns, and Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, claimed the risk of Covid transmission was actually higher in shops than in pubs.

Hospitality trade leaders announced they were going to court over Boris Johnson’s refusal  to let pubs and restaurants fully open up next month. Pictured: Revellers inside the Red Lion pub in London last year

Mr Osmond, a former director of Pizza Express, has written to the Prime Minister saying there was ‘no evidence or justification’ for prioritising the shops over hospitality.

He said yesterday that was because the range of Covid-safety measures put in place by the hospitality trade meant ‘the risk of transmission is plainly higher than in non-essential shops’.

But he told Mr Johnson that ‘time is of the essence’ for the sector and warned that ‘the cost of lockdown to the hospitality industry is £200 million a day’.

Mr Osmond also warned the Prime Minister of the ruling’s effect on jobs, citing the ‘potentially indirectly discriminatory effect’ on young people and those from minority ethnic backgrounds who work in hospitality.

He said yesterday: ‘This legal case will give a fighting chance to over three million people who work in hospitality and to the tens of thousands of businesses, suppliers, landlords and contractors large and small forced into bankruptcy.’

The group said they were going to court over the 'plainly irrational' decision to restrict pubs and cafes to outdoor opening only from April 12. Pictured: The Prime Minister speaking at the House of Commons

The group said they were going to court over the ‘plainly irrational’ decision to restrict pubs and cafes to outdoor opening only from April 12. Pictured: The Prime Minister speaking at the House of Commons

Declaring ‘our democracy should be better than this’, Mr Osmond raised hopes that the legal action would ‘open up a chink of light’ for all those who had been affected adversely by the Government’s anti-Covid measures.

Lawyers for the action will argue that it is ‘a matter of simple logic and borne out by the evidence’ that safety measures were easier to enforce in pubs and restaurants than in non-essential shops.

They will say: ‘Customers attending a hospitality venue for table service are easily identifiable through track and trace which they are requested to complete as a condition of entry, and can occupy their own socially distanced areas, in stark contrast to customers browsing and queuing in shops.’

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