UK

Two hospitality bosses launch High Court legal challenge to bring forward reopening of pubs

Two hospitality chiefs have today announced they will launch a High Court challenge against the Government, claiming it has ‘failed’ to provide evidence for delaying the return of indoor drinking.

Hugh Osmond, founder of Punch Taverns, and Sacha Lord, night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, believe pubs in England should be allowed to open fully from next month.

Under the Government’s current roadmap, bars are allowed to re-open outdoor areas from April 12 – at the same time as non-essential retail. 

But the pair claim the risk of Covid transmission is actually higher in shops than it is in pubs.

They say hospitality bosses have spent millions of pounds making they businesses Covid secure.

And they believe they should be allowed to open indoor venues with restrictions from April 12 – rather than the current planned date of May 17. 

The pair had given the Government a Wednesday night ultimatum to produce new evidence to back-up their roadmap.

But they say the Government has ‘failed’ to provide new information. They have now vowed to take their fight to High Court.

In a statement sent to MailOnline, Mr Lord said: ‘The Government has failed to introduce any new evidence as to why indoor hospitality cannot open on April 12 alongside non-essential retail and we will now be taking this case to the High Court for an expedited Judicial Review

Currently bars are being allowed to open outdoor areas from April 12, along with non-essential retail

Hugh Osmond, founder of Punch Taverns

Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester

Hugh Osmond (pictured left), founder of Punch Taverns, and Sacha Lord (pictured right), night-time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, believe pubs should be allowed to open fully next month

Wetherspoon announces plans to reopen on April 12 

Wetherspoon has today revealed plans for reopening its outdoor areas next month – on the day another pub firm slammed the Government’s decision to keep bars closed until mid-April.

In what will be a huge boost to millions of Britons eagerly awaiting the return of beer gardens, the UK’s largest pub chain today announced its seven point plan to reopen outdoor areas in less than a month.

Customers will be able enjoy their pint of beer or glass of wine in outdoor areas of pubs from April 12, under the Government’s current Covid road map,  

However Wetherspoon chiefs say punters will able to come into the pub to use the toilet – or if it is the only way to reach the outdoor area.

In and out routes will be marked for those customers entering and leaving the pub, while test and trace will be in operation – as it was last time pubs were open.

The chain, which runs almost 900 pubs across the UK and Ireland, will encourage customers to use its app to place orders, though customers can still pay via a member of staff.

And there will be a slightly reduced menu, that will still include breakfast options, burgers, pizzas, deli deals, fish and chips and British classics

However bosses say the biggest difference to their rivals will be that customers will not be able to book places ahead of their visit. 

‘While we’re pleased beer gardens will be reopening from 12 April, many venues don’t have the space or financial capabilities to have an outdoor area, and as we know very well in Manchester, the weather is not always kind.

‘Operators have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds creating indoor Covid secure environments, as advised by Ministers themselves, and we firmly believe these regulated, ventilated venues have much safer measures and greater social distancing in place than retail stores.

‘This is not a hospitality versus retail argument, but Government decisions must operate on a level playing field and be supported by evidence.

‘We currently see no clear justification for the delay.’

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

He said earlier this month that was because the range of Covid-safety measures put in place by the hospitality trade meant ‘the risk of transmission is plainly higher 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 £200million a day’. 

Mr Osmond also previously 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. 

In a statement on Twitter announcing the legal challenge, Mr Osmond said: ‘The Government has responded to our claim.

‘The response offers no new evidence but is cynically calculated to obfuscate and confuse the issue.

‘It will not be easy to defeat and the dice are loaded. But we will fight their prejudices and deliberate misuse of data all the way.’

Mr Lord today spoke to BBC Radio Four to explain the pair’s legal challenge. 

He said: ‘This is not us versus essential retail, but what we’re simply saying is this – the Government asked us to spend tens of millions of pounds to put these measures in place to create safe environments, that’s exactly what we did, we did what was asked of us. 

Mr Osmond, a former director of Pizza Express, had previously written to the Prime Minister saying there was 'no evidence or justification' for prioritising the shops over hospitality. Pictured: A barman pours a pint at a pub in London

Mr Osmond, a former director of Pizza Express, had previously written to the Prime Minister saying there was ‘no evidence or justification’ for prioritising the shops over hospitality. Pictured: A barman pours a pint at a pub in London

Bars can open their outdoor areas from April 12, in line with non-essential retail. But indoor venues must stay shut until May 17

Bars can open their outdoor areas from April 12, in line with non-essential retail. But indoor venues must stay shut until May 17

‘We’re not saying let’s go back to normality where people are queuing at the bar and busy pubs and things like that.

What we are saying is, We feel the industry that it is safe to enter a venue wearing a mask through a one-way system, to sit at a table where you order via QR code, there is track and trace, hand sanitiser, there is only table service, and you pay at the table by card.

How will lockdown ease in the roadmap?  

Step One Part One: March 8

From March 8, all pupils and students will return to schools and colleges across England.

So-called wrap-around childcare will also be allowed to resume, paving the way for after and before school clubs to reopen.

People will be allowed to meet one other person outside for recreation, for example, to have a picnic or to meet for coffee.

Care home residents will be able to have one regular named visitor.

The Government’s stay at home order will remain in place, with travel for non-essential purposes still banned.

Step One Part Two: March 29

From March 29, outdoor gatherings of up to six people or a larger group from up to two households will be allowed. These gatherings will be allowed to happen in private gardens.

Outdoor sports like tennis and basketball will be allowed to reopen and people will also be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.

It is at this point that the Government’s stay at home guidance will end, to be replaced by ministers encouraging people to ‘stay local’.

However, the Government is expected not to define what constitutes local, instead choosing to rely on people using their common sense to decide on journeys.

People will still be told to work from home wherever possible while international travel will still be banned unless it is for essential purposes.

Step Two: April 12

Non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen as well as personal care premises like hairdressers, barbers and nail salons.

Public buildings like libraries, museums and art galleries will be allowed to welcome back customers.

Meanwhile, hospitality venues and outdoor attractions like theme parks will be given the green light to reopen in some form.

However, there will still be rules on household mixing: Essentially any activity which involves being indoors will be restricted to members of the same household.

Gyms and swimming pools will also reopen from April 12 but only on the basis that people go on their own or with their own household.

Pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen but at this point they will only be able to have customers outdoors.

Any visits to a pub or restuarant will have to comply with the rules on social contact, so no more than two households or the rule of six.

The Government will not be bringing back the old requirement for people to order a substantial meal with alcohol while the old 10pm curfew will be ditched.

All customers at hospitality venues will also have to be seated when they order food or drink, with ordering at the bar prohibited.

Campsites and holiday lets where indoor facilities are not shared with other households can also reopen but trips must be restricted a single household.

Funerals will be allowed to continue with up to 30 people, while the rules on wedding receptions will be eased to allow the number of guests to increase from six to 15.

Step Three: May 17

The two household and rule of six requirements for outdoor gatherings will be ditched but gatherings of more than 30 people in places like parks will still be banned.

Crucially, mixing indoors will be allowed again. The rule of six or a larger group from up to two households will be allowed to meet.

However, this will be kept under review by ministers to see if rules could be relaxed still further.

This is also the point at which pubs and restaurants and other hospitality venues will be able to open indoors, with the rule of six and two household limit in place. But groups meeting outdoors at pubs will be allowed to be bigger.

Entertainment venues like cinemas and children’s play areas will be able to reopen, as will hotels and B&Bs. Indoor adult sports groups and exercise classes can also reopen.

Changes will also be made to sporting and performance events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half full

‘We feel that that is a safe regulated and a licenses environment as opposed to swerving in and out of shops that are non-essential retail.’ 

Last night a Government spokesperson said they were unable to comment on legal proceedings. 

In a statement, a spokesperson said: ‘There is clear scientific evidence that the risk of transmission is considerably lower outdoors than indoors and this is reflected in our roadmap.

‘We are supporting the hospitality sector throughout the pandemic, including our new £5billion Restart Grant scheme, extending the furlough scheme and the VAT cut, and providing 750,000 businesses in hospitality and other sectors with business rates relief.’  

The spokesperson added that the Government’s support package for hospitality was ‘one of the most generous in the world’.

They said the Government was offering £3,000-a-month grants for business which have been forced to close and up to £2,100 for those who are severely affected by restrictions. 

Pubs will be allowed to open outdoor areas from April 12 in Step Two of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Step One, part A, was the reopening of schools and allowing a person to meet another person outdoors from March 6.

Part B, on March 29, will see the Rule of Six re-introduced in outdoor settings, as well as the return of outdoor sports and the loosening of the Government’s ‘Stay at Home’ message, which will become ‘Stay Local’. 

Shops, hairdressers and pubs must remain closed until April 12 at the earliest – the same time gyms can get back up and running.

Even at that point pints and meals can only be consumed outdoors.

Campsites and holiday lets can reopen for single households from April 12 – but international travel is completely off the cards until at least May 17. 

Social distancing rules will stay in force until June 21 at the minimum, with a government review to decide their future after that.  

Another review will be held at that point to decide whether a system of vaccine certificates could be deployed within the UK to help open up the economy, something the government has previously said it is not considering.

Sports can start to return from May 17, although venues will need to work on reduced capacities.

Up to 30 people can go to weddings from the same date, but are stuck at that number until the next phase of the roadmap.

Only at June 21 will all legal limits on social contact go, and the remaining elements of the hospitality sector be allowed to open.

The PM has previously stressed that he is being driven by ‘data not dates’ and the timeline is not guaranteed.  

It comes as Wetherspoon earlier this week revealed plans for reopening its outdoor areas next month – on the day another pub firm slammed the Government’s decision to keep bars closed until mid-April.

In what will be a huge boost to millions of Britons eagerly awaiting the return of beer gardens, the UK’s largest pub chain today announced its seven point plan to reopen outdoor areas in less than a month.

Customers will be able enjoy their pint of beer or glass of wine in outdoor areas of pubs from April 12, under the Government’s current Covid road map,  

However Wetherspoon chiefs say punters will able to come into the pub to use the toilet – or if it is the only way to reach the outdoor area.

In and out routes will be marked for those customers entering and leaving the pub, while test and trace will be in operation – as it was last time pubs were open.

The chain, which runs almost 900 pubs across the UK and Ireland, will encourage customers to use its app to place orders, though customers can still pay via a member of staff.

And there will be a slightly reduced menu, that will still include breakfast options, burgers, pizzas, deli deals, fish and chips and British classics

However bosses say the biggest difference to their rivals will be that customers will not be able to book places ahead of their visit.

Wetherspoon will instead opt for a first-come-first serve policy. 

Mitchell and Butlers, which operates brands such as Sizzling and Harvester, also criticised the Government’s roadmap.

A spokesperson today told MailOnline: ‘The evidence to support the delay of indoor re-opening appears very flimsy, and as such the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown seems to unfairly penalise the hospitality sector.’

However, the chain also said it plans to open up to 300 pubs in England on April 12. 

A spokesperson added: ‘These plans assume we will have normal April weather – needless to say we have all fingers crossed for a spell of fine weather, in which case we may be able to open more pubs which we’d love to do.

The chain, which is owned by Tim Martin (pictured) runs almost 900 pubs across the UK and Ireland, will have to confine customers to outdoor areas until further measures are lifted

The chain, which is owned by Tim Martin (pictured) runs almost 900 pubs across the UK and Ireland, will have to confine customers to outdoor areas until further measures are lifted

Lockdown-weary Britons eagerly awaiting the return of beer gardens have today been given a major boost, with Wetherspoon chiefs announcing their reopening plan

Lockdown-weary Britons eagerly awaiting the return of beer gardens have today been given a major boost, with Wetherspoon chiefs announcing their reopening plan

‘In pubs which do re-open, we’ll be encouraging customers to use apps to both pre-book and then to order from their table.’

Meanwhile, rival pub chain Greene King earlier this week announced its plans to reopen 442 of its managed pubs outdoors in England from April 12. 

Unlike Wetherspoon, customers can book a garden table online from Friday 26 March.

However people will also be able to visit the pub outdoors without an advance booking. 

Greene King Pub Partners tenants, who make up a further 875 pubs across England, will also be deciding on an individual basis whether to reopen their outdoor areas from 12 April, bosses say.  

A Greene King spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Sadly, we can only open around a third of our estate in April where we have outdoor space that will work and have a chance of being viable, but we know the vital role pubs play in communities and feel it’s important to open as many as we can to help people get back together once again.

‘We look forward to May when we can open many more of our pubs, and the all-important return to normality in June when the restrictions are fully removed, and we can start to rebuild our businesses.’

PizzaExpress will open 118 restaurants for outdoor dining from April 12 – but is YOUR local branch on the list? 

PizzaExpress will reopen a third of its restaurants for outdoor dinning from April 12 – when Covid lockdown measures on hospitality businesses are finally eased.

The popular pizza chain is planning to open 118 of its sites in England, for what it is calling ‘Al Fresco April’.

Bosses of the chain, which has more than 370 restaurants across the UK, say they hope to reopen indoor dinning when restrictions are further lifted in May. 

Plans to reopen restaurants in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland will be announced at a later date, bosses say. 

Which Pizza Express restaurants will be reopened on April 12 for outdoor dining? 

Abbeville Road – Clapham

Chelmsford

Kingston High Street

Salisbury

Abbey Road – London

Cheltenham

Leeds – Headingley

Sheffield – Ecclesall Road

Abingdon

Cheshire Oaks

Leeds – Birstall

Shepherds Bush

Aldershot

Chichester

Lincoln

Shrewsbury

Andover

Chiswick

Liverpool – King’s Waterfront

Slough

Balham

Cobham – Anyards Rd

Liverpool – One

South Woodford

Banstead

Coventry – Belgrade Plaza Loughborough

Southend

Barrett St

Didsbury

Luton

Southgate

Basildon

Dulwich

Macclesfield

Stockton Heath

Basingstoke

Eastbourne

Manchester – Piccadilly

Stratford East

Bath

Eltham

Manchester – First Street

Surbiton

Bedford

Esher

Mill Hill

Sutton – Belsize Park

Exeter

Milton Keynes –  One

Sutton Coldfield

Berkhamsted High Street

Falmouth

Muswell Hill

Tamworth

Bexley Heath

Fulham Road (895 -896)

Newbury

Taunton

Bishops Stortford

Gabriel’s Wharf – South Bank

Newquay

Tonbridge

Blackheath

Guildford

Northampton

Tunbridge Wells

Bluewater

Harborne

Paddington

Uckfield

Bracknell

Harlow

Petersfield

Walton On Thames

Braintree

Harpenden

Pimlico

Wandsworth – Trinity Rd

Brighton – Prince Albert Street

Hastings

Poole – Tower Park

West Bridgford

Brighton – Brighton Marina

Haywards Heath

Portsmouth 

Wilmslow

Bristol – Harbourside

Hemel Hempstead

Putney

Wimbledon – Village

Bromley

Horsham

Radlett

Wokingham

Bury St Edmunds

Hove

Reading – Oracle

Worcester

Camberley

Ipswich – Regatta Quay

Reigate

Worcester Park

Camden

Islington

Richmond

Worthing

Canterbury

Jesmond

Rugby

York – St Sampsons Square

Castleford

Kew

Ruislip

Caterham

Kings Road – Pheasantry

Rushden Lakes

Zoe Bowley, Managing Director at PizzaExpress said: ‘We’ve really missed buzz and bustle and seeing our customers enjoying their favourite pizza.

‘Our Cook At Home range and Click & Collect and Delivery services have been immensely popular during the past few months, but we can’t wait to fire up our ovens and swing open our doors again.

‘Whether you book or simply walk-in, our teams will be happily serving our delicious range of pizzas in our gardens and terraces throughout England and we’ll be ready to open in Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland as soon as their national restrictions end. 

‘Of course, we’re set to reopen all of our restaurants in England in May for both indoor and outdoor dining.”

The move will be a major boost to  the chain, which in October announced plans to cut 1,300 jobs after facing a profit hit due to tough coronavirus restrictions.   

Bosses said the move would not involve closing down restuarants, but instead focus on a ‘slimming down’ of its staffing team.   

Months earlier, in August, the chain announced it would close 73 of its restaurants and cut 1,300 jobs across Britain in a bid to stay afloat in the aftermath of last year’s lockdown.  

Bosses last year said the chain’s High Street restuarants had been the worst hit, but said suburban and out-of-town locations had seen more resilient trading.

Its takeaway, delivery and retail operations also ‘performed strongly’ last year, chain chiefs added.  

The reopening plan comes as pubs, bars and restaurants will be able to throw open their doors to outdoor customers in England from April 12. 

Major pub chains including Greene King and Wetherspoon have already announced plans to reopen.  

Wetherspoon, the UK’s largest pub chain, this week announced its seven point plan to reopen outdoor areas next month.

Customers will be able enjoy their pint of beer or glass of wine in outdoor areas of pubs from April 12,.

However Wetherspoon chiefs say punters will able to come into the pub to use the toilet – or if it is the only way to reach the outdoor area.

In and out routes will also be marked for those customers entering and leaving the pub, while test and trace will be in operation – as it was last time pubs were open.

The chain, which runs almost 900 pubs across the UK and Ireland, will encourage customers to use its app to place orders, though customers can still pay via a member of staff.  

And there will be a slightly reduced menu, that will still include breakfast options, burgers, pizzas, deli deals, fish and chips and British classics

However bosses say the biggest difference to their rivals will be that customers will not be able to book places ahead of their visit. Wetherspoon will instead opt for a first-come-first serve policy.  

Rival pub chain Greene King earlier this week announced its plans to reopen 442 of its managed pubs outdoors in England from April 12.

Unlike Wetherspoon, customers can book a garden table online from Friday 26 March.

However people will also be able to visit the pub outdoors without an advance booking.

Greene King Pub Partners tenants, who make up a further 875 pubs across England, will also be deciding on an individual basis whether to reopen their outdoor areas from 12 April, bosses say.

A Greene King spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Sadly, we can only open around a third of our estate in April where we have outdoor space that will work and have a chance of being viable, but we know the vital role pubs play in communities and feel it’s important to open as many as we can to help people get back together once again.

‘We look forward to May when we can open many more of our pubs, and the all-important return to normality in June when the restrictions are fully removed, and we can start to rebuild our businesses.’

Rival pub chain Mitchells and Butlers, which runs Sizzlers and Havesters among other brands, said it plans to open up to 300 pubs in England on April 12. 

A spokesperson added: ‘These plans assume we will have normal April weather – needless to say we have all fingers crossed for a spell of fine weather, in which case we may be able to open more pubs which we’d love to do. In pubs which do re-open, we’ll be encouraging customers to use apps to both pre-book and then to order from their table.’

Pubs will be allowed to open outdoor areas from April 12 in Step Two of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Step One, part A, was the reopening of schools and allowing a person to meet another person outdoors from March 6.

Part B, on March 29, will see the Rule of Six re-introduced in outdoor settings, as well as the return of outdoor sports and the loosening of the Government’s ‘Stay at Home’ message, which will become ‘Stay Local’.

Shops, hairdressers and pubs must remain closed until April 12 at the earliest – the same time gyms can get back up and running.

Even at that point pints and meals can only be consumed outdoors.

Campsites and holiday lets can reopen for single households from April 12 – but international travel is completely off the cards until at least May 17.

Social distancing rules will stay in force until June 21 at the minimum, with a government review to decide their future after that.

Another review will be held at that point to decide whether a system of vaccine certificates could be deployed within the UK to help open up the economy, something the government has previously said it is not considering.

Sports can start to return from May 17, although venues will need to work on reduced capacities.

Up to 30 people can go to weddings from the same date, but are stuck at that number until the next phase of the roadmap.

Only at June 21 will all legal limits on social contact go, and the remaining elements of the hospitality sector be allowed to open.

The PM has previously stressed that he is being driven by ‘data not dates’ and the timeline is not guaranteed.


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