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Night-Time Economy Adviser for Manchester eyes legal battle over roadmap approach to hospitality compared to non-essential retail

The Night-Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester, Sacha Lord, has revealed that he is discussing his options with his legal team “regarding the lack of evidence to justify the delay of the reopening of hospitality compared with non-essential retail”.

Under the Government’s ‘roadmap’ non-essential retail will potentially be allowed to open on 12 April but no earlier.

Hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors at this stage (Step 2) and there will be no need for customers to order a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks and no curfew, although customers must order, eat and drink while seated.

Indoor hospitality will potentially reopen on 17 May (Step 3) but no earlier. As in Step 2, venues will not have to serve a substantial meal with alcoholic drinks; nor will there be a curfew. Customers will, however, have to order, eat and drink while seated.

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Confirmation of the discussions with his legal team came as Mr Lord said via Twitter that he could announce the Government had dropped the substantial meal requirement in their recent roadmap as a result of the court case he brought with two other residents of Manchester.

Mr Lord tweeted: “Judges in our case ruled the measure was arguably discriminatory towards certain sections of society. This is a landmark victory for hospitality.”

Earlier this month Judge Pearce gave the claimants permission for a legal challenge over the restriction on serving alcohol unless it is with a table meal.

Amongst other things the judge said he agreed that the courts should be slow to interfere in the defendant's [the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care's] difficult tasks of assessing what is necessarily limited evidence in order to come to important public health decisions. However, the judge added, “it is arguable that the there is no scientific evidence to support the distinction that has been drawn between the service of alcohol in accordance with the Table Meal exemption and serving alcohol in other circumstances that comply with Government guidance on reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission.”

The claimants were advised by JMW Solicitors and David Lock QC of Landmark Chambers.

Mr Lord tweeted: “We will continue to work on behalf of the night time economy and hospitality sectors to ensure measures imposed are fair to both operators and the public. We will be donating all court costs recovered evenly between @HospAction and the @GMMayorsCharity.”

 

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