Sacha Lord forces government to drop substantial meal rule – and hopes to bring forward reopening

01 March 2021 by
Sacha Lord forces government to drop substantial meal rule – and hopes to bring forward reopening

The government was forced to drop its ‘substantial meal' rule following a legal challenge by Greater Manchester's night-time economy advisor Sacha Lord, who is launching a new challenge to bring forward the reopening of the hospitality sector.

Under previous tier rules in England, hospitality venues could only serve alcohol alongside a ‘substantial meal', a requirement which has been dropped by the UK government in its roadmap to reopening.

Judges have ruled in favour of Lord, who brought a court case against health secretary Matt Hancock claiming the restrictions were discriminatory towards certain sections of society.

Lord is now seeking to bring forward the reopening of hospitality businesses in England to align with the reopening of non-essential retail on 12 April, when the government has said hospitality will only be able to open outdoor areas.

He said: "This is a landmark victory for the hospitality industry. We are pleased with this judgment and that the court case compelled the government to remove the substantial meal requirement in their recent roadmap.

"We have continually stated that this measure actively discriminates against, and unfairly impacts, the poorest and most disadvantaged sectors of our society, and was lacking in scientific evidence to support it.

"We will continue to work with those most affected across the night-time economy and hospitality sectors to ensure all measures imposed on the industries going forward are fair, not only to the operators and businesses struggling to survive, but to the general public.

"My legal team and I are already in discussions regarding the lack of evidence to justify the delay of the reopening of hospitality compared with non-essential retail and this is an area we will be updating on in the weeks to come."

Oliver Wright, a partner at JMW Solicitors, who represented Lord, added: "This case highlighted the lack of real scientific evidence to support the government's policy, and their failure to understand its discriminatory effects on BAME communities."

Lord said he would donate all court costs recovered from the health secretary evenly between Hospitality Action and the Greater Manchester Mayor's Charity.

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