Senior figures from Greater Manchester’s hospitality industry are preparing a legal challenge to new lockdown restrictions.
The Prime Minister is set to make an announcement on a so-called tiered local lockdown system tomorrow.
It has been reported Manchester will be placed in the tier 3 category for ‘very high risk’ areas and that the city could be told to shut pubs, bars and restaurants.
Negotiations between local leaders and the government over how a new lockdown will look are said to be ongoing.
Pubs in the Liverpool city region are set to be ordered to close as part of new restrictions there it has been reported tonight but restaurants could be allowed to stay open.
Merseyside Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram tonight tweeted no deal had yet been reached, and suggested measures could still vary from those which are expected.
Now Sacha Lord, the region’s night-time economy adviser, has confirmed he has instructed lawyers “to begin a Judicial Review into the legality of the emergency restrictions due to be imposed on the hospitality and entertainment sectors.”
The move is being supported by The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), The British Beer and Pub Association, Middleton brewery JW Lees, Manchester’s Joseph Holts Brewery, Stockport’s Robinsons Brewery, the New River Pub Company, Hawthorn Leisure, and operators across Greater Manchester including Alberts Schloss, 20 Stories, San Carlo, Wood Restaurant, Gusto, Living Ventures, Evuna, The Alchemist, O’Sheas and Atlas Bar.
“There is currently no tangible scientific evidence to merit a full closure of the hospitality and entertainment sectors” he said in a statement.
“Our discussions and ongoing calls for evidence have been ignored and we have therefore been left with little choice but to escalate the matter further.”
Michael Kill, chief executive of the NTIA said: “The industry has been left with no other option but to legally challenge the so called ‘common sense’ approach narrative from Government, on the implementation of further restrictions across the North of England.
“These new measures will have a catastrophic impact on late night businesses, and are exacerbated further by an insufficient financial support package presented by the Chancellor in an attempt to sustain businesses through this period.
“This next round of restrictions are hugely disproportionate and unjust, with no scientific rationale or correlation to PHE transmission rates, when compared to other key environments.”
“Systematic closure of businesses across the UK must be challenged when there is no clear evidence or reason.”
Last week the owners of Manchester nightclub G-A-Y launched a judicial review of the 10pm curfew – introduced on September 24 – saying it made “absolutely no sense.”
Earlier today the leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese told Times Radio there was a “large gulf” between the city and Government in ongoing discussions about further restrictions.
“We seem to have an almost impossible task of penetrating the Westminster bubble” he said.
Sir Richard said the council’s own data showed there was “no evidence closing pubs works”.
He also said the Government had talked about a four-week “sunset” clause to review any future restrictions, but there was “not clarity” on the issue.
The chancellor has already announced a new furlough scheme which would see the government pay two thirds of the wages of employees at businesses legally ordered to close but this has been criticised for not going far enough with Mr Burnham saying “to accept it would be to treat hospitality workers as second-class citizens.”