Legal challenge to curfew going ahead after government 'dither and delay'
The owner of the G-A-Y nightclub group is to proceed with a legal challenge to the 10pm hospitality curfew, claiming the government failed to provide scientific evidence to support it.
Jeremy Joseph accused Health Secretary Matt Hancock of "dither and delay" after asking for a further two weeks to respond to lawyers.
He added that G-A-Y, which runs four late-night venues in London and Manchester, has been left with "no choice" but to take action.
Joseph has instructed lawyers at Simpson Millar to issue a judicial review, which allows a claimant to challenge the lawfulness of a government decision.
He said: "If this evidence existed Matt Hancock would surely have it to hand. Why the dither and delay? The fact is the government have still not provided any justification for a law that is putting customers, businesses and jobs at risk with every passing day.
"This industry will not survive an ongoing curfew, especially if we are going to be put into more lockdowns, it's impossible."
The controversial curfew has been in place since 24 September as part of a government bid to slow the spread of coronavirus, but there are concerns it is causing overcrowding on streets and public transport at closing time.
Joseph added that he supports safety measures such as track and trace, the rule of six, face coverings and limits to table service, as they are all based on "published scientific information".
"But the curfew simply is not and does not work. What we are seeing is our customers going from being safe in our venues to unsafe on crowded streets and public transport.
"It undermines all the good work being done by our NHS and our hospitality industry."
The legal action is being backed by the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which represents 1,200 bars, clubs, casinos and music venues.
Dan Rosenberg from Simpson Millar said: "It is disappointing that the government has failed to provide this evidence to date. While there are further likely limitations on trading for venues - especially those based in the North - our clients feel it is important to take further action in respect of the curfew, which is a discrete and separate issue."
A government spokesperson told The Caterer: "Our measures strike a balance between saving lives by protecting our NHS and the most vulnerable and minimising the wider impact.
"The latest data suggests a considerable rise in the infection rate following people socialising in hospitality venues serving alcohol in recent weeks, so we have taken immediate action to cut the transmission rate and save lives and will keep all measures under constant review.
"The 10pm closure allows people to continue to socialise while reducing the risk of failing to socially distance."
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