Legal bids launched as government's three-tier system threatens northern shutdown
Opposition is mounting ahead of the government's unveiling of its new three-tier system later today, which is widely expected to reimpose lockdown restrictions in areas of northern England.
The prime minister will outline plans in the House of Commons today, ahead of a press conference this evening, but hospitality leaders and local officials have already threatened legal action to force the government to defend its actions with scientific evidence.
It is expected that Liverpool will be placed under the most stringent regulations under ‘tier three' of the proposed system.
Steve Rotheram, the mayor of Liverpool, said: "Government have been clear from the start that they plan on placing the Liverpool city region in tier three and plan on announcing this tomorrow (Monday).
"Whilst we have asked for the evidence to support that decision, none has been forthcoming. Throughout we have been clear that new restrictions must come with the financial support to protect local jobs and businesses.
"No agreement has yet been reached on this point and negotiations are ongoing. As in all these things, the devil will be in the detail. A deal is not a deal until it is agreed."
Leaders have also said that the chancellor's local support package, announced on Friday, does not go far enough. Manchester mayor Andy Burham told Sky News it would be "insufficient to protect our communities". He said that hospitality was likely to be most affected by the new measures and that to accept the package would be "to accept that hospitality workers are second hand citizens".
He and night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester Sacha Lord are among those looking to launch a legal bid against the proposed restrictions. Also pursuing action are the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), the British Beer and Pub Association and 12 other businesses and organisations.
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."